Ex-World Cup referee Lu Jun admits taking bribes for match-fixing

The long-awaited trial over soccer corruption continued into its third day. Lu Jun, China's most famous referee, who once officiated World Cup and Olympic Games and was dubbed "the golden whistle", stood trial in an intermediate court in Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning province, facing charges of bribery-taking and match-fixing. Lu admitted he fixed seven matches for four clubs and took 810,000 yuan ($128,000) between 1999 and 2003, but he argued that the money he received was not the reward for being partial during matches, according to CCTVShanghai Shenhua alledgedly paid 5.5-million yuan to fix a match with another Shanghai club. Lu shared 700,000 of the money with Zhang Jianqiang, the former head of the CFA Referees Committee. "After about two weeks, I cannot remember the exact date, I went to the association and then he gave me the money. They put it in one of those paper bags with CFA logos: 350,000 yuan in cash". He has returned the money after the national governing body of the sport pledged to crack down on match cheating. Yi Shenghua, a Beijing-based lawyer, said Lu will face different charges and punishment if the prosecutors fail to prove that the money is a kickback for match fixing. During the two-and-a-half-hour hearing on Wednesday, the former "golden whistle" wept when prosecutors mentioned his early success as a referee who "started to officiate key matches in his early 30s", CCTV said.
The latest admission comes after another well-known referee, Huang Junjie, has admitted taking bribes to fix matches in China, including a friendly involving Manchester United in 2007, according to a state media report. Standing trial in northeastern Liaoning province, Huang Junjie confessed on Tuesday that he had received bribes of nearly 1.6 million yuan ($252,100) between 2005 and 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Huang Junjie used to be one of the best Chinese FIFA referees. The bribes were from six domestic clubs and involved two international matches, a friendly between Manchester United and Shenzhen FC which the English side won 6-0 and another between Sydney FC and Shanghai Shenhua in 2009, Xinhua said. Apart from taking bribes to officiate in favour of clubs, Huang also took money from his colleague Zhou Weixin and helped him with gambling. During an exhibition match between English Premier League giants Manchester United and China's Shenzhen FC in Macao Stadium in 2007, Huang met Zhou's request to let Shenzhen FC win toss-up for the kick-off and received $100,000 (Hong Kong) as a reward afterwards. In 2009, Huang helped Zhou win in gambling again during a friendly between China's Shanghai Shenhua and Australian side Sydney FC. And this time the reward was 100,000 yuan. Huang was taken away by the police in March 2010, and Zhou was also arrested at the same time. Huang and Zhou were both charged with taking bribes as non-state staff with Zhou facing an additional count of bribing civil servants.

Lu, Huang and Zhou are among some 60 national soccer players, referees, coaches and other officials accused of involvement in match-fixing and gambling scandals in a national clampdown in late 2009.

Source: Reuters / Xinhua