China began trials today for some 60 national players, referees, coaches
and other officials accused of involvement in match-fixing and
gambling scandals that have caused disaffected fans to turn away
from the sport.
Zhang Jianqiang (pictured), ex-director of the Chinese Football
Association (CFA)'s referee committee, appeared in a court in
the north-eastern city of Tieling on Monday, nine months after
being arrested for match-fixing and bribery, Xinhua news agency
said. Proceedings were closed to the public
Zhang faces two charges of "bribe-taking and bribery by
non-public servants," the agency said.
The trials follow a two-year investigation into alleged
match-fixing that spanned a period of years. Among those accused
in the scandal were the former heads of China's soccer program,
Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, who will face trial in the following
"Football corruption breached the country's law and tarnished
the image of the sport as well as the healthy development of football in China, leading to a very bad impact on the game," the
Chinese Football Association (CFA) said in a statement.
"Corruption exposed flaws in the administrative system and
imperfections in the supervision mechanism."
Others to face trial are Wang Po, a former general manager
of Chinese Super league club Shaanxi, on charges of bribe-taking
and fraud, and Yang Yimin, former deputy director of the Chinese
Football Administrative Center.
Several top referees including Lu Jun, a 2002 World Cup
match official, would also face trial this week in Dandong,
another city in China's north-east.
It was not clear how long the trials would last, and state
media people.com said the verdicts would be announced at an
appropriate but unspecified time.
Chinese football has been dogged by graft and match-fixing
scandals for years, which along with crowd violence, led to fans
turning away from the game in droves.
Supporters have also endured numerous frustrations with the
national team, who failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup
despite employing former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho to
lead the team. China has only once appeared at the finals in
However, interest has returned at domestic level in recent
weeks with big-spending Shanghai Shenhua signing French striker
Nicolas Anelka from English Premier League side Chelsea this
month. They followed that by appointing former
France international Jean Tigana as coach on Sunday
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