Top China referee to stand trial over bribes: Xinhua

21 December 2011 08:16

A top Chinese referee will stand trial on Wednesday on charges of accepting bribes, amid a series of high-profile corruption hearings involving top football officials, state media said.

Lu Jun, who has refereed matches at the World Cup and Olympic Games, will take the stand in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

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

About 20 other former officials and referees are to appear in court later this week.

Chinese state media on Wednesday called for harsh punishments to be meted out to those officials found guilty of corruption, which they described as a "cancer" in the sport.

The hearings are part of a crackdown on corruption that have reached the top echelons of the game in China.

It led to the downfall of the head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), Nan Yong, who was charged last year with fixing matches and accepting bribes.

Such allegations 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 selected in the national team -- a practice also widespread among league clubs.

"China's football has become the hotbed of illegal benefits," an editorial in the People's Daily, the Communist Party's print mouthpiece, said.

It added the trials were a "wake up call" for football officials and called for "the eradication of the cancer in order to allow the regrowth of fresh muscle".

Chinese Sports Minister Liu Peng said the government would launch an "education revamp for all officials" in football and emphasise "self-discipline" and "clean governance", according to Xinhua news agency.

Source: AFP

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