CFA staff probed for soccer scandals

10:07, November 10, 2009      

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The clampdown against soccer gambling and match-fixing is set to expand as a senior staff from the Chinese Football Association (CFA) was reportedly put under investigation.

Fan Guangming, an official in charge of commercials at the CFA, was reportedly taken away by police earlier this month in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province.

He was believed to be in custody for alleged involvement in manipulating matches between Chinese clubs and overseas clubs in Singapore.

Fan had organized domestic soccer teams, including one from Liaoning, to play in Singapore, and later those teams were all involved in soccer-betting scandals in the island state.

Fan is so far the most senior person involved since the nationwide crackdown on soccer-related gambling and match-fixing - a crackdown which took place behind the scenes until made public by media last week. The campaign has investigated more than 100 current and former players, coaches, referees, club officials and industry insiders.

Fan's exposure puts more pressure on the embattled CFA, which has been slammed for its lack of effort in dealing with problems in the Chinese Super League (CSL), the nation's top-flight league.

The CFA was even targeted by some fans and the media as playing a supporting role in the deterioration of the scandal-ripped league.

The CFA made its first public response on Friday, promising to support the fight against gambling.

"Problems like gambling and match-fixing have undermined the sport's development in China," said the CFA in a statement. "This crackdown is an important step toward cleaning the soccer environment and reviving the sport.

"The CFA is always against these illegal actions and fully supports the moves from other departments to fight these problems."

Some football officials in southwestern China's Sichuan province and south China's Guangdong province have also been questioned by police as the investigation widens.

Chinese soccer's embarrassing image as a third-class player in the world has drawn unprecedented attention across the nation.

Last month, President Hu Jintao, Vice-President Xi Jinping and State Councilor Liu Yandong made remarks about the need to revitalize the sport.

State media like CCTV have also shot a series of in-depth programs to support the anti-gambling blitz.

"Gambling is like a fatal cancer to the sport," said a commentator from CCTV. "If gambling cannot be removed, China's soccer will have no future at all."

China's soccer has been plagued by scandals like bribery of referees and underground gambling. The CFA tried several times to work with police departments to settle these problems, only to see all efforts end in vain.

A large number of fans are still cautious about the effectiveness of the crackdown.

In a poll on, only 18 percent of 44,100 respondents praises the effort, calling it "surprising and pleasing".

About 75 percent hope the parties involved can do more effective work.

Only 22 percent believe positive achievements will come from the crackdown.

The remaining people, however, choose: "It's hard to say; we'll have to wait and see."

Source:China Daily
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