China goes further to fight football match-fixing

08:14, February 26, 2010      

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China has gone a step further to curb match manipulation that has been blamed for the poor performance of China's football teams.

The latest disciplinary action came Tuesday as the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced to relegate two top football clubs and entirely disqualify a second division team.

Wei Di, the newly appointed chief of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), told Xinhua that handing out punishments could serve as very good warnings to other clubs.

Wei vowed that the CFA would punish clubs that broke the rules more severely in the future.

In November, China launched a crackdown to stop the manipulation of football matches, which has so far resulted in the detention of Nan Yong and Yang Yimin, former vice chairmen of the CFA.

Many Chinese were strongly in support of the crackdown as they blamed match-fixing and illegal betting for holding back men's soccer in China, which has often performed poorly at an international level.

Second division team, Qingdao Hailifeng received the most severe punishment, as part of the disciplinary action.

Police said Wednesday that the team's players had tried to shoot an own goal during a match last September in order to help their boss win a bet.

Police said Du Yunqi, chairman of Hailifeng, gambled online near the end of a match between his team and one from southwest Sichuan Province that the scores would change.

The players of Du's team could not meet his request to score one more goal with only five minutes left so they went creative and tried to get one in their own goal.

Du and captain of his team in the September match have been arrested.

The two other clubs disciplined were the Chinese Super League sides Guangzhou Pharmaceutical and Chengdu Sheffield United, two top football clubs in China. They were both demoted to the second division.

Guangzhou Pharmaceutical was penalized for paying bribes to two other teams in August and September 2006 respectively. Chengdu Sheffield United paid bribes to Hailifeng in September 2007.

The punishments will potentially reduce the Chinese Super League, the country's top football league, to 14 teams.

Ma Yong, an official in charge of football in the Shandong provincial administration of sport, said the problems in China's football industry had not come about over night.

Some industry players have developed close links with each other and used them for personal gain by taking advantage of the industry, Ma said.

Seasoned football journalist Yin Bo believed the key to solving the problems facing China's football industry was to drastically reform the operating mechanism.

Yin suggested that the CFA should just be the supervisor and make the rules rather than be a business player.

"It should also look to improve transparency," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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