China football referee admits bribes

20 December 2011 04:16

A well-known Chinese referee confessed in court Tuesday to accepting bribes for fixing local and international matches, amid a series of corruption hearings involving top football officials.

Huang Junjie admitted to accepting more than $246,000 in bribes to fix two international friendlies as well as six Chinese club matches between 2005 and 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The veteran of more than 20 years -- who in 2009 was among three shortlisted for best Chinese referee of the year -- also confessed to accepting bribes from his colleague Zhou Weixin to sway results, the report added.

Zhou is facing charges of corruption as well as bribing civil servants, Xinhua said.

The tainted matches that Huang officiated include a 2007 exhibition match between English Premier League champions Manchester United and China's Shenzhen FC, and a 2009 fixture between Shanghai Shenhua and Australia's Sydney FC.

Corruption hearings against some of China's top footballing officials kicked off Monday with Zhang Jianqiang, the former head referee of the Super League, in court to face charges of accepting match-fixing bribes totalling $409,600.

Referee Lu Jun, who had previously officiated World Cup and Olympic football matches, will stand trial Wednesday while about 20 other former officials and referees are to face the courts later this week.

The hearings are part of a crackdown on corruption that have reached the top echelons of the game in China, and led to the downfall of the head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA)

Gambling, match-fixing, crooked referees and poor performances by the national team made the sport the laughing stock of increasingly indifferent fans, and a matter of state concern.

According to state media, CFA officials routinely fixed matches, including national team and league games, by allegedly buying off the teams or referees involved.

Association officials also reportedly accepted pay-offs from players who wanted to be named to the national team -- a practice widespread among league clubs also.

Sponsors abandoned the sport, and state television network CCTV refused to broadcast Super League games.

Source: AFP