Chinese police have detained three more former top soccer officials — including a one-time head of the national association — in a widening gambling and match-fixing probe, the Beijing News said yesterday.
Former Chinese Football Association (CFA) director Xie Yalong was taken into police custody last week for questioning along with a former top Team China official and a CFA official who headed the referee commission, the Beijing News said.
China’s professional leagues have been plagued with allegations of gambling, match-fixing and crooked referees for years.
That, coupled with the national side’s poor performances, have long made the “beautiful game” a source of chagrin for diehard fans.
Early this year, the scandal exploded when Xie’s successor Nan Yong and two of his top lieutenants at the CFA were arrested on bribe-taking and match-fixing charges. Scores of officials and referees have been detained.
According to the Beijing News, Xie was taken at the weekend to the northeastern city of Shenyang, where the investigation is based, to be interrogated on his ties with Nan and his top aides.
The trials of Nan, former CFA vice head Yang Yimin and one-time head of CFA refereeing Zhang Jianqiang could be imminent as prosecutors have already handed over investigation documents to the courts, state media have reported.
Numerous reports said Xie was unlikely to be implicated in the scandal, but the fate of the other two officials was unclear.
A CFA spokesman refused to comment on the detentions or the expected trials when contacted by AFP.
Xie, a soccer outsider, served as CFA director from 2005 to last year, when Nan oversaw the national team and professional league.
Xie had been tasked with cleaning up the professional league and bringing the national side back to prominence — tasks that largely went unfulfilled. He was replaced last year by Nan, to the applause of the sporting press.
Nan served as CFA head for less than a year before he was arrested, reportedly for crimes that began early in his tenure at the association.