We will show no mercy: Soccer chief

08:28, February 24, 2010      

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China's soccer chief has revealed more clubs are under investigation by police and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) will show no mercy to those which are found to have broken the law.

"The Guangzhou GPC, Chengdu Blades and Qingdao Haililfeng are not the only clubs under investigation," said Wei Di, the newly-appointed director of the Chinese Football Administrative Center, said on Monday as the league tries to clear up match-fixing and bribery scandals.

"Other teams are also being investigated but we will not name them until all the evidence comes out."

Guangzhou, Chengdu and Qingdao were the first clubs to be investigated and severely punished by the CFA after a nationwide crackdown on match-fixing, gambling and bribery in the sport was initiated late last year.

The CFA yesterday officially announced the relegation of Chengdu and Guangzhou from the top-flight league - the Chinese Super League (CSL), and the disqualification of Qingdao from the second-division league.

"We will impose heavy punishment once we get evidence from the police. Even if the new season is underway, we will not hesitate to punish any team and will not show any leniency," Wei said.

"We cannot leave the previous lessons behind. The longer we are blind to these problems, the more serious they will become."

Meanwhile, officials from Guangzhou and Qingdao said they will make an appeal to the CFA while Chengdu, a team owned by English League Championship side Sheffield United, are willing to accept their punishment.

"We are responsible for what happened and we are sorry for our fans," said Chengdu's team manager, Yao Xia. "We support the CFA's fight against match-fixing. We hope people will forgive us and we will keep working and try to fight back to the top-flight league next season."

The club also confirmed Sheffield United would not withdraw their investment.

Reports said last season's CSL clubs Zhejiang Greentown and Chongqing Lifan, who were relegated after finishing in bottom two of the nation's top-flight league, were likely to replace Guangzhou and Chengdu.

Chongqing and Hangzhou boast better club infrastructure, including marketing and reserve team development, than the other second division clubs, according to a report from sports.sina.com.cn.

The proposal from the CFA has been submitted to the State General Administration of Sport. It includes the CFA's decision to stick to March 20 as the opening day of the CSL's new season.

Soccer in China has long been plagued by match-fixing and bribery scandals.

Other abuses include players allegedly paying for places at national team training camps and for appearances in international competitions.

The relegations were the harshest punishments dealt out to clubs caught up in the sweeping probe that has netted more than a dozen players and officials, including former soccer boss Nan Yong.

Source:China Daily
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