Government and Policy

Former soccer chief summoned for bribery case

By Qiu Bo (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-08 07:42
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Former soccer chief summoned for bribery case

BEIJING - China has launched a new anti-corruption sweep on soccer after the police recently summoned former soccer boss Xie Yalong and two other Chinese Football Association (CFA) officials to assist in the bribery case of Nan Yong, another former soccer boss.

Xie and the other two CFA officials, Wei Shaohui and Li Dongsheng, who used to work with Nan, were taken to Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, by local police last weekend, to provide statements that may help convict Nan, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

"Wei and Li have disappeared for a couple of days," an anonymous employee at the CFA told China Daily on Tuesday.

Nan, Xie's former deputy and successor, previous vice-chairman of the CFA and chief of the Chinese Soccer Administrative Center, was replaced in January by Wei Di, former chief of the Water Sports Center, after bribery-taking and match-fixing allegations were exposed.

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Nan and the other two former CFA senior officials, Yang Yimin and Zhang Jianqiang, were arrested earlier this year after law enforcement officers embarked on a crackdown on corruption.

The image of Chinese soccer was damaged after the scandal surrounding Nan erupted.

"I had huge expectations of Nan Yong, especially after Xie's failure, but the reality let me down again," said Du Shuai, a 25-year-old Beijing soccer fan.

Xie, who has been vilified as the "sinner of Chinese soccer", took charge of Chinese soccer in 2005, a position he held for three years. His tenure ended unsatisfactorily after the national men's soccer team was eliminated without a single win in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Although Xie was fiercely attacked by fans for his performance, he was reassigned to a comfortable position - board chairman of the China Sports Industry Group, the only listed company under the General Administration of Sport of China. The company is involved in real estate, as well as operating and scheduling sports competitions.

According to an insider at Xie's company, Xie was previously asked to help with the investigation. "I think Xie is fine and he will be back in a couple of days," the source said.

However, Wei Shaohui and Li Dongsheng, who used to report to Nan Yong and were stripped of their credentials after the scandal, face an uncertain future, though the majority of media reports said Xie was unlikely to be involved in the scandals.

Current CFA boss Wei Di refused to comment on the incident and a CFA spokesman told China Daily the association has no announcements to make at the moment.

According to Modern Express's report, an official from the General Administration of Sport of China said: "Based on my understanding of Xie, he would never participate in gambling or match fixing."

The official also said that questioning Xie would be a normal procedure, rather than a signal that he was about to be arrested.