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People's Daily Online>>Sports

Top soccer referees jailed

By Zou Le (Global Times)

08:56, February 17, 2012

Four of the country's top soccer referees were sent to jail Thursday as a campaign to clear up the game reached its climax, but analysts called for more legal support in order to revive the sport.

Soccer has been a source of disappointment for domestic fans due to the scandals and the national team's poor performances.

To clean up the game, authorities launched a crackdown in 2009, which resulted in a major reshuffle of top soccer officials.

The Intermediate People's Court of Dandong, Liaoning Province handed down a five and a half year prison term to Lu Jun, who officiated at the 2002 World Cup and the Sydney Olympic Games, for taking a total of 810,000 yuan ($128,540) in bribes and for fixing seven matches from 1999 to 2003.

Lu was arrested in 2010 amid a sweeping campaign to clean up corruption in Chinese soccer, which has resulted in the arrests of about 60 players, referees, club managers and senior officials, including Chinese Football Association (CFA) heads Nan Yong and Xie Yalong.

The other three referees, Huang Junjie, Zhou Weixin and Wan Daxue, were sentenced to seven years, three and a half years and six years in jail respectively.

Huang was found guilty of taking 1,480,000 yuan and 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,894) in 21 cases. Zhou once asked Huang to help him in football gambling by fixing two international friendlies.

Along with the referees, LÜ Feng, the former general manager of the Super League, a company financed by China's soccer administration and clubs to run the top-flight domestic competition, was sentenced to six and a half years for bribery.

"Thursday's verdict not only sends a strong warning to other referees, but also sets a penalty standard for future violations," said Yan Qiang, a senior soccer journalist with Titan Sports, a popular sports newspaper in China.

"Referees are supposed to represent the spirit of justice and fair play, but the actions of the convicted severely tarnished the image of this profession," Yan said.

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