A bribed soccer referee's case hitheadlines or front pages of newspapers in Beijing on Thursday following his much-hyped trial here.
"'Black whistle' Gong Jianping sentenced to ten years in jail" said Beijing Stardaily in bold headline.
"The Xuanwu District Court said on Wednesday that referee Gong accepted nine bribes totaling 370,000 yuan (44,700 US dollars) between 2000 and 2001 from several first and second division clubs," said the newspaper. "The court said that Gong was guilty."
"But considering the fact that he made a confession and returned most of the money, the court levied a lenient punishment of 10 years in prison."
Gong was a referee registered with international soccer governing body FIFA. His trial has remained the focus of Chinese media since two weeks ago when the court accepted and was preparedto hear the case.
"Ten years for Gong for taking bribes" is Beijing Times' headline.
"Gong appeared rather composed during the trial," reported the newspaper. "He admitted most of the charges and there was no witness giving testimony on Wednesday."
A letter from an anonymous referee confessing taking bribes waspublished at the end of 2001 and later it turned out that the anonyme was Gong, who, at the same time, also returned part of thebribe money. He had been the focus of a match fixing-scandal in China's first and second division leagues that came to light earlier that year.
Judiciary procedures started in the long-awaited crackdown on "black whistles" in China as Gong was arrested last April on charges of "accepting commercial bribes".