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Corruption is rife in Chinese football

21 February 2013

Match-fixing and bribery are endemic in Chinese football, argues former footballer. Photo: Chengphoto/flickr
Match-fixing and bribery are endemic in Chinese football, argues former footballer. Photo: Chengphoto/flickr 

Chinese Football Association concluded a three-year match-fixing investigation this Monday by handing out five-year bans to 25 former and current players, officials and referees and banning 33 for life.  A number of clubs received fines and had points deducted. 

Some journalists from Chinese media reporting on the investigation have found the punishments to be too soft, however, as no club was relegated. Liang Yan, a host at Beijing Sports Radio, said the punishments meted out on Monday show that the Chinese league is not professional in its approach, writes China Daily. "The CFA should look at what other leagues have done if it wants to build a professional league," Liang said. 

Liu Jianhong, a China Central Television commentator called for more supervision to regulate the soccer league. "What should we do to ensure a clean future for Chinese soccer? Apart from an explanation regarding the punishments, the CFA should also plan for the future. A league without long-term supervision cannot be properly organized," China Daily reports. 

Low salaries and local government collusions
In an interview with the Guardian, a Chinese journalist and a former professional footballer argue that low salaries and unchecked local government officials are the main reasons that match-fixing and bribery are endemic in Chinese football.

Providing insider information into the Chinese soccer league, the former footballer revealed that Chinese players were prone to accepting bribes because their salaries were often so low that it was difficult for them to provide for their families and paychecks were often delayed for months. The footballer, who has requested anonymity, said that he would often receive a phone call before a match, where a fixer would offer him thousands of pounds to let the other team win, writes the Guardian. 

While salaries in the Chinese soccer league have improved, Ma Dexing, deputy editor-in-chief of a popular Chinese sports magazine, argue that football corruption remains a problem because of unchecked local government officials who often manipulate matches for political reasons, writes the Guardian. "It has nothing to do with money," he said: "it's just because of face."

Ma said: "The Chinese Football Association (CFA), they will punish athletes or punish teams or punish referees, but they haven't punished any local government officials. In reality, it's local government officials who are conducting things from behind the scenes."

Sources: China Daily, The Guardian

 
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