Chinese-Belgian soccer agent arrested as crackdown continues
Xie Yalong (right), vice-president of the Chinese Football Association from February 2005 to September 2008, watches national team players in action at Qingxin Mingjiang Training Center in Guangdong province in 2006. [Wu Jun / for China Daily]
Beijing - Seven former officials of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), including former vice-presidents Xie Yalong and Nan Yong, are expected to face public prosecution on charges of bribery and malfeasance at a court in Liaoning province early next year.
According to a report on Monday from Soccer News, six months of investigations by the police and prosecuting authorities of Tieling city of Liaoning are about to culminate in cases against Xie, Nan and their accomplices.
The first soccer official to face allegations of bribery and gambling was Fan Guangming, who was arrested in November 2009.
Nan and the other two former CFA senior officials, Yang Yimin and Zhang Jianqiang, were arrested in March after law enforcement officers embarked on a crackdown on corruption in Chinese football.
Xie and two other officials, Wei Shaohui, a former senior official of China's national football team, and Li Dongsheng, a former head of the CFA's referees commission, were arrested in September on suspicion of fixing matches and taking bribes, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
After that, several well-known referees and soccer players, whose misdeeds were exposed, were also arrested.
An informant told the media a few weeks ago that most of the suspects, including Nan, will be brought to trial in Tieling. But Xie will be transferred to Dandong, another city in Liaoning province, to face the charges.
Bai Chuan, a Chinese-Belgian football agent and close friend of Nan, was arrested on Sunday, marking the latest development in the continuing anti-corruption sweep.
In 2006 Bai brokered a sponsorship deal between the CFA and a bogus Britain-based company called IPHOX, which promised to pay 6 million euro ($8 million) for the naming rights to the Chinese Super League, the country's top football competition. But IPHOX eventually paid only 6 million yuan ($900,000).
The CFA successfully sued Bai, but the more than 5 million euro owed to the CFA had to be written off as bad debts. After Nan's sacking, Bai told the media he was innocent, but the police arrested him as soon as he landed at Beijing's Capital Airport on Sunday.
Soccer News believed investigations into Nan centered on the IPHOX scandal, while Xie is suspected of taking bribes to secure the hosting rights of the East Asian Football Championship for Chongqing municipality in 2006.
Yan Qiang, vice-director of Titan Sports, a leading sport newspaper in China, said that although the bribery suspicions were well founded, there was no evidence that Xie and Nan were involved in match fixing.
"Evidence showed that some of them, including Xie and Nan, had nothing to do with manipulating matches," he told China Daily on Monday.
Legal experts said the current law does not cover the crime of match fixing and appealed for new legislation to be enacted.
Yi Shenghua, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said he would welcome a new law on match fixing because "it will punish the criminals more precisely".
He also said that if a person took bribes worth more than 100,000 yuan, they should face a prison term of more than 10 years.