A Chinese court has
sentenced four referees, including a former World Cup
match official, to up to seven years in jail for involvement in
match-fixing and gambling, state media reported on Thursday.
About 60 local players, referees, coaches and officials were
put on trial in December following a two-year investigation into
match-fixing that has blighted the country's struggling football leagues in recent years.
Lu Jun, a referee at the 2002 World Cup, was sentenced by
the Intermediate People's Court in the north-eastern city of
Dandong to five years and six months for accepting bribes,
Xinhua news agency said. He was also ordered to surrender
personal property worth 100,000 yuan ($15,900).
Three other referees - Huang Junjie, Zhou Weixin and Wan
Daxue - were sentenced to seven, three-and-a-half and six
years, respectively, for fixing matches.
Lu Feng, the former general manager of Super League, a
company financed by China's football administration and clubs to
run the top-flight domestic competition, was sentenced to
six-and-a-half years for bribery.
A separate court in Tieling, a city in the north-eastern
province of Liaoning, was expected to hand down sentences to
former vice-president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA)
Yang Yimin and other CFA and club officials on Saturday, Xinhua
Chinese football has been dogged by graft and match-fixing
scandals for years, which along with violence on and off the
pitch, led to fans turning away from the domestic game in
The rash of convictions has occurred less than a month
before China's top-flight domestic league kicks off its new
season on March 10.
A number of local clubs, including Shandong Luneng, Shanghai
Shenhua, Henan Jianye, Changchun Yatai and Jiangsu Shuntian, are
embroiled in the investigations, leaving administrators with a
potential headache as to their participation in the league.
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