Ex-soccer chief stands trial

Updated: 2012-04-26 07:55

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily)

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A former Chinese soccer chief stood trial on Wednesday on 17 counts of taking bribes during his term.

Nan Yong, former director of the Chinese Football Administrative Center, was in court in Tieling, in Northeast China's Liaoning province, accused of accepting 1.48 million yuan ($235,000) in bribes.

Ex-soccer chief stands trial

Nan Yong, former director of the Chinese Football Administrative Center, is taken to a vehicle after his trial at a court in Tieling, Liaoning province, on Wednesday. [Liu Guanguan / for China Daily]

The trial followed Tuesday's court proceedings against Nan's predecessor, Xie Yalong, on similar charges.

Xie, 56, was charged with accepting more than 1.7 million yuan in bribes from 1998 to 2008. At Tuesday's hearing, Xie denied some of the charges and claimed he had been tortured into confessing in the detention house.

Nan and Xie are the highest-ranking officials to be prosecuted in China's crackdown on corruption in soccer, which has brought down dozens of officials, referees, club owners and players.

Nan, 50, who became deputy chairman of the Chinese Football Association 15 years ago, played a key role in China's sole appearance in World Cup finals, hiring Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic despite opposition.

He was arrested in March 2010 with his associates, Yang Yimin and Zhang Jianqiang, who were convicted in bribery trials in February. Yang was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison, and Zhang to 12 years.

Before his arrest, Nan once told reporters that there would be no hope for Chinese soccer if the government did nothing to stop game-fixing and corruption.

Several well-known Chinese players and clubs were linked with Nan's case, according to China Central Television.

For example, national team player Zheng Zhi, also captain of defending Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande, had given Nan a luxury watch in return for a move to join Charlton Athletic on loan in December 2006, the CCTV report said.

In another incident, Nan allegedly accepted bribes worth 400,000 yuan from Shenyang Ginde, now called Guangzhou R&F, to help prevent the club from being removed from the top Chinese league during the 2006-07 season, according to prosecutors.

Nan's trial in Tieling ended at 6:30 pm on Wednesday without a ruling.

Also on Wednesday, the trials of the former head of the Chinese Football Association's referees committee, Li Dongsheng, and four other former national team players convened in Liaoning province.

Li is facing charges of taking over 790,000 yuan in bribes and embezzling 60,000 yuan in the Intermediate People's Court of Dandong, Liaoning province.

Former national team players Qi Hong, Shen Si, Li Ming and Jiang Jin stand accused of accepting a combined bribe worth 8 million yuan to fix a final-round match between Shanghai International and Tianjin Teda in 2003.

The players' lawyers have pleaded for a lenient sentence, given that the four have made contributions to Chinese soccer development. Qi, Shen and Jiang played for the national team when China qualified in the World Cup finals in 2002.

Xie Liang, a veteran soccer commentator with Radio Guangdong, said the trials of such high-ranking soccer officials and players showed China's determination to clean up the soccer environment.

"Chinese soccer has been improving since the nationwide crackdown two years ago. The domestic league has seen a growing number of spectators coming to the stadiums."

Contact the writer at qiuquanlin@chinadaily.com.cn