Soccer officials under investigation

08:28, September 13, 2010      

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Police have officially launched investigations into former Chinese Football Association (CFA) vice-president Xie Yalong and two other officials on suspicion of match fixing and bribery, the Ministry of Public Security said on Sunday.

It was the first time police confirmed Xie was being investigated for match fixing, and the move is the latest in a push to rid the Chinese game of the taint of cheating and to raise the level of play.

The others under investigation are Wei Shaohui, a former top official in China's national football team, and Li Dongsheng, a former head of the CFA's referee commission, a ministry statement said.

The ministry's public security management bureau said "police and prosecutors have obtained clues after receiving tip-offs" with the help of the General Administration of Sport.

All of the three have been placed on file for further investigation.

The investigations are part of a widening gambling and match-fixing probe, according to the ministry.

The probe has so far netted more than a dozen players and officials, including Xie's successor Nan Yong. They were arrested on suspicion of bribing players and referees to determine the outcome of games they had bet on.

Xie, 55, born in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, was appointed vice-president of the CFA and chief of the Chinese Soccer Administrative Center in 2005, and reassigned in 2009 to a comfortable position - board chairman of the China Sports Industry Group, the only listed company under the General Administration of Sport.

Since Xie's alleged summons was reported last week, the stock price of the company has been falling, triggering investor anger.

A board member of the company, who would not be named, said the company's business would not stop without the chairman, and he believes the General Administration of Sport would name a successor soon.

Sunday's confirmation of the probe into Xie did not surprise the public, though. An online survey conducted by sina.com, one of the most popular portals in China, shows that 80 percent of the 2,781 polled said the probe was not unexpected.

More than 70 percent of respondents believed evidence will bring the three men to the court and more dignitaries will be dragged down.

Yi Shenghua, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said match fixing is not a specific crime in China, but either gambling or bribery would be sufficient to convict Xie.

By Qiu Bo China Daily

(Editor:张心意)

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