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Sacked soccer coach wins wide support
By Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-21 06:52

Allegations of match fixing in a conspiracy that Chi Shangbin, former coach of Shenzhen Jianlibao of the China Super League, says cost him his job are to be investigated by the Chinese Football Association (CFA).

Chi Shangbin
On Friday 90 per cent of respondents to an online poll conducted by CCTV's "Oriental Times" said they believe Chi is telling the truth about his side of events.

More than 70 per cent also said those players who Chi says conspired against him should be sacked.

Xie Yalong and Nan Yong, two CFA vice-presidents, and officials from the State General Administration for Sports met Chi and interim board Chairman Yang Saixin of the Shenzhen club on Thursday.

"It is the first time in China's footballing history that top officials are talking with a sacked coach the day afterward," Xie said. "The CFA will pay close attention to the problem.

"We will have a clear investigation before dealing with the problem. In any case, those players (whom Chi is accusing) represent China, the CFA have to take it seriously.

"Football 'ruffian' is a proper word to describe such a situation. It is not just a problem of a club; it also matters to the development of China's football."

Yang quit in protest against the sacking, saying the club had succumbed to "ruffian" players in sacking the coach.

"In fact those players are in control of the team," Yang was quoted as saying. "They are multi-millionaires. They have their own companies. ... They are more gangsters than players.

"They also have the power to control a match. They are behaving like gangsters."

Relations with some of Shenzhen's players who are also on the National Team had been deteriorating since Chi was named head coach at the beginning of the season. Last year's coach, Zhu Guanghu, was appointed to manage the National Team after Shenzhen won the league championship.

Chi, whose team has so far failed to win a single game, has a record of losing five and drawing four so far in 2005. But the ousted coach yesterday restated allegations through Sina.com.cn that the string of poor results was because some top players had forced younger members of the team to fix matches in order to get rid of him.

"I know who did this," said Chi, who formerly coached Dalian Shide, one of the country's top clubs. "Some players on the team have wanted me to quit almost right from the start."

Chi criticized Li Weifeng in particular, saying: "As a national player and also former captain of the team, he should be an example in training and competition, but he was not."

The Chinese football league, which seems to have lurched from one crisis to another since its inception, has been linked to widespread corruption and gambling, lost its main sponsor, German mobile phone giant Siemens, and is also losing fans as attendance figures at games continue to fall.

(China Daily 05/21/2005 page1)

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