China disclosed on Wednesday the public details of the corruption cases of three Chinese soccer referees, including Lu Jun, who has been referred to in the past as China's best soccer referee. The three soccer referees Lu Jun, Huang Junjie and Zhou Weixin were arrested on charges of taking bribes last year.
It was learned that prior to a match between the Shanghai International and Shanghai Shenhua teams on Nov. 9, 2003, Zhang Jianqiang, a former official of the China Football Association (CFA) asked Lu Jun to call the game in Shanghai Shenhua's favor, promising that commissions would be paid to him and other referees if Shanghai Shenhua won the game. Shanghai International and Shanghai Shenhua were both favorites for 2003's domestic league championship games. The two teams had top ranking in the league table before that match.
The match was broadcasted on live television, which made difficult for referees to favor one side over another. Lu Jun later confessed that he tried to give "emotional care" to Shenhua players by treating them less strictly. Shanghai Shenhua successfully overtook Shanghai International in the league table after a 4 to 1 victory in that match. Shanghai Shenhua went on to win that year's domestic league championship. "Shanghai Shenhua later brought commissions worth 700,000 yuan to my office. Lu and I each got 350,000 yuan," Zhang Jianqiang confessed. Zhang was arrested for alleged match-fixing and bribery in March 2010.
Lu refereed more than 200 matches in the domestic league over the course of his career. He was also the first Chinese to referee at the World Cup.
Details of Huang Junjie and Zhou Weixin's corruption cases were also revealed on Wednesday. Both were found to have made unfair calls that affected match outcomes after being promised commissions.
"Our investigation found that it was a common practice for football clubs to give bribes to referees," said Cui Weidong, an official in charge of the case. "Football clubs gave bribes to referees through a variety of means. On most occasions, they gave cash directly and the amounts varied according to the importance of the game," Cui added.
China has been cracking down on match-fixing scandals and gambling since November 2009, when a new initiative was made to bear down on these illegal activities. Nan Yong and Yang Yimin, both former vice chairmen of the CFA, were arrested for alleged match-fixing and bribery last March.
Xie Yalong, another former vice president of the CFA was arrested for bribery last October. Soccer insiders have stated that an anti-corruption supervision mechanism should be put into place to guard against match-fixing scandals and gambling.