Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Top PRC referee admits taking bribes: Xinhua

AFP, BEIJING

A top Chinese referee confessed in court yesterday to taking bribes for fixing local matches, state media said, amid a series of high-profile corruption hearings involving top soccer officials.

Lu Jun, who has refereed matches at the World Cup and the Olympic Games, told a court in northeastern China that he pocketed 810,000 yuan (US$128,000) for fixing seven domestic league games, Xinhua news agency said.

The games included four first-division matches in 2003.

The report did not say if Lu, nicknamed the “Golden Whistle” by Chinese media because of his successful international career, had been accused of fixing World Cup or Olympic Games matches.

Shanghai Shenhua — who recently signed a two-year contract with Chelsea star Nicolas Anelka — were also accused of spending 5.5 million yuan to bribe numerous officials and referees, including Lu, the report said.

Corruption hearings against some of China’s top soccer officials began on Monday with Zhang Jianqiang, the former head referee of the Chinese Super League, making a court appearance to face charges of accepting match-fixing bribes totaling US$409,600.

The latest admission comes after well-known referee Huang Junjie confessed on Tuesday to taking more than US$246,000 in bribes for fixing local and international matches between 2005 and 2009, according to Xinhua.

About 20 other former officials and referees are to appear in court this week.

Chinese state media yesterday called for harsh punishments to be meted out to those officials found guilty of corruption, which they described as a “cancer” in the sport.

The hearings are part of a crackdown on corruption that has reached the top echelons of the game in China.

It led to the downfall of the head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), Nan Yong, who was charged last year with fixing matches and accepting bribes.

According to state media, CFA officials routinely fixed matches, including national team and league games, by allegedly buying off the teams or referees involved.

Association officials also reportedly accepted payoffs from players who wanted to be selected in the national team — a practice also widespread among league clubs.

Chinese State Sports General Administration Director Liu Peng said the government would launch an “education revamp for all officials” in soccer and emphasize “self-discipline” and “clean governance,” according to Xinhua.

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