Top China football officials charged in graft probe

Three former bosses of China's graft-ridden football association have been formally arrested on corruption charges as the league pledged Tuesday to cleanse itself of corruption.

Former Chinese Football Association boss Nan Yong, one-time vice chief Yang Yimin and just-sacked head of refereeing Zhang Jianqiang were arrested on Monday on match-fixing and bribe-taking charges, Xinhua news agency reported.

The three were detained in January and stripped of their posts in an expanding probe into graft in Chinese football that has made the game a laughing stock amongst beleaguered fans in the world's most populous nation.

Former Chinese Football Association boss Nan Yong (pictured in 2009), one-time vice chief Yang Yimin and just-sacked head of refereeing Zhang Jianqiang have been arrested on match-fixing and bribe-taking charges, according to Xinhua news agency.

"Nan Yong and the others have violated the law, they must bear the legal responsibility..., we fully support the actions of the police," newly appointed CFA head Wei Di said in a statement posted on the association website.

"What really hurts is that they were leaders of the China Football Association, this not only is painful, but means that we have a greater responsibility to bear."

Wei said his main task going forward was to set up a supervisory system in Chinese football that "would prevent this situation from recurring."

He gave no specifics.

Previous reports have said at least 21 association and club officials have been formally arrested since November, with police interrogating more than 100 suspects.

Press reports said another raft of club officials, coaches and football agents disappeared into police custody this week for questioning as the dragnet widened.

Many former national team players could be drawn into the scandal, while at least one current player was involved, Tuesday's Shanghai Morning Post reported, citing unnamed sources.

"With the participation of the police we are expanding the scope of fighting and stopping organised crime, match-fixing and gambling," newly appointed CFA vice head Yu Hongchen told the Beijing Times.

"At the same time we are expanding the scope of the investigation and striking fear into the hearts of the criminals."

Last week, two top Chinese football clubs were fined and relegated for paying bribes, while a second-tier club was stripped of its right to field a team.

The CFA began investigating corruption in the sport in 2006 following widespread allegations of organised gambling, crooked referees and match-fixing.

source AFP

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