China Football Association pledges to fight against corruption

December 19th, 2011 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 19 (IANS) As trials opened Monday into cases of corruption in Chinese soccer, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) reiterated its determination to clean the sport.

China’s professional leagues have been plagued with allegations of gambling, match-fixing and crooked referees for years, which, coupled with the national side’s poor performances, have long made soccer a source of disappointment for diehard fans.

The nationwide crackdown on gambling and match-fixing started in March 2009 when a high-profile committee was set up by 12 ministry-level bodies to clean up corruption in Chinese soccer.

Since then, numerous officials, referees and former players have been detained for their involvement in corruption and match-fixing in soccer games, including former CFA vice-president Nan Yong and his predecessor Xie Yalong.

“Since 2009, the General Administration of Sport of China have been closely cooperating with the police to crack down on match-fixing and gambling in Chinese soccer. With the battle going deeper and wider, several criminal cases have been under investigation and the trials will open,” said the statement released by the CFA.

“Soccer corruption breached the country’s law and tarnished the image of the sport as well as the healthy development of soccer in China, leading to a very bad impact on the game.”

“Corruption exposed flaws in the administrative system and imperfections in the supervision mechanism,” Xinhua reported.

“The fight against corruption is a long-time effort. On one hand, we need to build a solid defence to prevent corruption. On the other hand, we should deepen the reform of Chinese soccer and improve the administrative system and the supervision mechanism.”

Zhang Jianqiang, ex-director of the CFA referee committee, became the first defendant to stand trial Monday. He is facing charges of bribe-taking and bribery by non-public servants in the northeastern Chinese city of Tieling.

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