|Former soccer referee Huang Junjie(L) and former Chinese "Golden Whistle" Lu Jun. (File photo: www.chinanews.com)
By Sportswriter Zheng Daojin
DANDONG, Liaoning Province, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Four famous Chinese football referees, including former "Golden Whistle" Lu Jun were sentenced to from at least three and a half to most seven years imprisonment for match-fixing after the first trial by the Intermediate People's Court of Dandong here on Thursday.
Chinese best known referee Lu Jun, who had officiated in the 2002 South Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment for taking a total of 810,000 yuan(about 128,657 U.S. dollars) in bribes for fixing seven league matches involving four clubs. Lu was also had personal property worth 100,000 yuan (about 15,880 U.S. dollars) confiscated.
Lu's three colleagues Huang Junjie, Zhou Weixin and Wan Daxue, were sentenced to seven, three and a half and six years in jail respectively for fixing league matches and even some international friendlies among clubs.
The judge convicted Huang Junjie of taking 1,480,000 yuan and 100,000 Hongkong dollars (about 247,975 U.S. dollars) in 21 cases. Huang was also confiscated personal assets worth 200,000 yuan (about 31,760 U.S. dollars).
Zhou Weixin, whose deliberate wrong-given penalty in a 2004 Chinese supper league game led to Beijing Guoan's walkout and ignited the so-called "G7 Revoltution" (seven big league clubs protested against the Chinese Football Association), was convicted of taking 490,000 yuan (about 77,829 U.S. dollars) and fixed eight games by bribing other referees as a middleman.
Zhou once asked Huang to help him in football gambling by fixing two international friendlies, and bribed his colleagues He Zhibiao, Chen Honghui and Zhao Liang in the Chinese top league games.
Wan Daxue was convicted of accepting 940,000 (about 149,306 U.S. dollars) in bribes, mostly from the matches at the Chinese National Games. Wan was also had personal property worth 150,000 yuan (about 23,820 U.S. dollars) confiscated.
Former CSL company manager Lu Feng and several employees, and several staff from the Zhongyi Sports Development company were the other convicts on Thursday's trial. Lu got a 6.5-year imprisonment sentence for taking a total of 1,400,000 yuan (about 222,370 U.S. dollars) from Zhongyi company and he also bribed former CFA officials.
Former CFA vice president Yang Yimin, former CFA Referee Committee director Zhang Jianqiang and some other ex-CFA employees and club staffs will be sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court of Tieling, Liaoning Province on Feb. 18. Yang was convicted of taking 1,254,000 Yuan (about 199,180 U.S. dollars), while Zhang's bribery number amounts to 2,730,000 yuan (about 433,622 U.S. dollars).
However, the date of the trial of the two "bigger fishes" Nan Yong, vice president of CFA and his predecessor Xie Yalong is yet to be announced.
Several Chinese top flight clubs, including Shandong Luneng, Shanghai Shenhua, Henan Jianye, Changchun Yatai, Jiangsu Shuntian...were involved in these cases, which may cause a headache for the CFA with regards to how to punish them before the new season CSL, which is scheduled to start in March.
China's professional football leagues have been plagued with allegations of gambling, match-fixing and corruption for years. In order to clean up the game, a nationwide crackdown on gambling and match-fixing was launched by the government in 2009, when a high profile committee was set up by 12 ministry-level bodies.
The CFA have made some changes in their supervision system and disciplinary rules and regulations after the large-scale action. A number of CFA staff have been changed, and the decision-making mechanism, the financial control of the professional leagues have become more transparent and democratic.