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Soccer body to welcome supervision

National association calls for volunteers, introduces rewards for whistleblowers

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-29 06:54
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Want to help make soccer a cleaner and fairer sport? Sign up to become a supervisor.

As part of China's ambitious soccer revival project, the Chinese Football Association has introduced a public supervision system, inviting ordinary fans, media representatives and local disciplinary inspectors to oversee daily operations of the sport's governing bodies at all levels and report any wrongdoings or disciplinary violations as whistleblowers.

The move to get the masses involved was announced on Thursday, as former Chinese men's national team head coach Li Tie stood trial over allegations of bribery and match-fixing at a court in Xianning, Hubei province.

Earlier this week, former CFA president Chen Xuyuan and four other officials of governing bodies were given prison sentences for corruption-related crimes, which have taken a heavy toll on the sport's profile and the integrity of domestic competitions in recent years.

The supervision system is open to applicants who love the game of soccer, care about the sport's development, possess basic knowledge of the sport, and have administrative experience with a strong sense of social responsibility, according to a regulation released on the CFA website.

Qualified public supervisors will be granted a wide range of responsibilities, such as hearing work reports from the CFA and providing feedback, overseeing league operations from player selection to referee assignment, collecting suggestions, and reporting any misconduct of officials, professional players and staff members of organizations involved in soccer development, the regulation said.

Public supervisors will initially be appointed as volunteers for two years, with those making exceptional contributions to be eligible for reappointment.

The CFA also announced on Thursday the introduction of a reward mechanism to encourage tips about violations such as match-fixing, gambling and bribery that manipulate competition results to tarnish fair play in the sport.

Reports of such violations will be welcomed at all levels, targeting all competitions, organizations and wrongdoers, the CFA regulation said.

Verified sources providing solid tips will be compensated with cash ranging from 2,000 yuan ($276) to 20,000 yuan, depending on the value of information. Those who make key contributions in exposing and cracking down on serious cases will be given extra rewards, the CFA said.

As China pushes ahead with its goal of developing into a world powerhouse in the sport, a goal highlighted in a reform project approved by the State Council in 2015, the fight against corruption shall be carried on with tougher actions, CFA Party chief Zhang Jiasheng said.

"We have to continue fighting all disciplinary violations with stricter and more aggressive measures, and intensify anti-graft efforts at all levels to clean up the sport for good," Zhang, who is also a vice-minister of the General Administration of Sport, said at a meeting discussing soccer development and reform on Wednesday.

Observers said the introduction of external scrutiny will help improve the credibility of the governing body's anti-graft campaign, but more efforts are needed to guarantee that valuable feedback, suggestions and tips are respected, handled appropriately and implemented transparently.

"These new initiatives show the CFA's resolve to shake off the ill repute overshadowing the game. It's more important, though, to see how they can be implemented," said Han Qiaosheng, a former sports commentator with China Central Television.

To meet a major goal highlighted in the soccer reform project, the Chinese men's team has been going all out to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, following its sole appearance in the tournament in 2002.

A 4-1 Asian zone qualifier win at home against Singapore on Tuesday, the men's side's first international victory in four months, kept alive Team China's hopes of making the 2026 tournament and offered Chinese fans a rare reason to celebrate following years of struggle supporting their underachieving national squad.

"We've supported the national team through ups and downs without regret. We hope all the efforts will eventually pay off," said He Sheng, a die-hard fan and a volunteer referee with a level two national certificate, after watching the match in Tianjin.

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