Court gives clean chit to football ex-captain Sagar Thapa, 5 others

Published On: June 8, 2018 07:08 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

Appeal to Asian Football Confederation planned

KATHMANDU, June 8: After three years in the football wilderness, former football team captain Sagar Thapa and five others were given a clean chit by the Special Court of judges Baburam Regmi, Pramod Kumar Shrestha and Narayan Prasad Pokhrel on Thursday.

Thapa, meanwhile, is all set to appeal once again to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to lift the lifetime ban against him. “If AFC banned us on the basis of information that Sportradar and  Nepal Police gathered why can’t they lift the lifetime ban now that the court has acquitted us of all the accusations,” said Thapa while talking to Republica.

AFC is yet to release any official statement on the issue but they remain steadfast in their no-tolerance policy toward match-fixing. “Match-manipulation is a serious threat to the development of the game in Asia and AFC has a zero tolerance policy toward match-fixing and anyone involved in it,” said Dato Windsor John, AFC acting general secretary.

Thapa  also spoke of the ‘appalling’ role of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) in the whole affair, which goes back three years to a difficult period. “They did not make any effort for our sake. They failed in their duty toward players who have served the nation or to do anything about the dark future we faced. They left us to our own devices,” said an emotional Thapa. He was thankful to family and friends  sticking with him through a difficult  period.

Meanwhile, ANFA remains unaware about the Special Court decision and has declined to issue any statement. “I have no idea about the decision,” Karma Tshiring Sherpa, president of ANFA, said on the phone to Republica.

Thapa, vice-captain Sandip Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, defender Bikash Singh Chhetri and coach Anjan KC along with physiotherapist Dejiv were arrested on October 15, 2015 on the charge of match-fixing  in international games that Nepal played, sending shockwaves through the Nepali sports fraternity.

The five footballers were arrested on the charge of match-fixing in international tournaments between 2008 to 2014, in return for hefty amounts. They will remain banned from  football activities by ANFA and AFC until a new ruling.

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