2010/10/05

Second China FA head arrested in graft scandal

BEIJING, October  5, 2010 (AFP) - Chinese police have formally arrested former head of the China Football Association Xie Yalong, the second CFA boss to be embroiled in a widening graft scandal, state television said Tuesday.

Xie is being charged with match-fixing and accepting bribes, China Central Television reported.

The ex-manager of China's national team Wei Shaohui and Li Dongsheng, the former director of Chinese football's referee committee, were also formally arrested on the same charges, the report said.

The three were taken in for questioning early last month, reportedly to "assist" in an ongoing investigation that has already ensnared Xie's successor Nan Yong and numerous other top CFA officials and professional club managers.

Gambling, match-fixing, crooked referees and poor performances by the national team have made the sport the laughing stock of increasingly indifferent fans and a matter of mounting state concern.

State media has widely reported details of the scandal, with CFA officials allegedly routinely fixing matches, including national team and league games, by buying off the teams or referees involved.

As soon as matches were fixed CFA officials would allegedly gamble on the outcome, the leading Titan Sports Weekly reported last month.

The suspect CFA officials also allegedly accepted pay-offs from players wanting to be named to the national team -- a practice that also was widespread among league clubs.

According to state television, the investigations into three league referees, including one-time top Chinese referee Lu Jun, have been completed with court proceedings expected to begin soon.

Earlier press reports said the trials of Nan, former CFA vice head Yang Yimin and one-time head of CFA refereeing Zhang Jianqiang could be imminent as well as investigators were wrapping up their probes.