A Chinese court sentenced four top football referees to up to seven years in prison after convicting them of corruption and match-fixing.
The best Chinese referee, Lu Jun, has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison by a court in Liaoning Province after accepting $128,000 to fix seven matches in China's national league from 1999 to 2003. He was the first Chinese official to referee at a World Cup, when South Korea and Japan hosted the showpiece event in 2002. Prior to that, he had taken charge of matches at the Sydney Olympics of 2000 and he was twice voted Referee of the Year by the Asian Football Confederation. But the court in the city of Dandong, near the border with North Korea, found that Lu had altered the outcome of seven games that involved four clubs including Shanghai Shenhua. The court ordered the confiscation of Lu's personal property worth 100,000 yuan.
Huang Junjie was convicted of accepting $247,975 for fixing several matches from 2005 to 2009, including two friendly games pitting Chinese teams against English giants Manchester United and Australia's Sydney FC. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and will have his personal property worth 200,000 yuan confiscated. Huang had refereed for more than 20 years and was certified as a FIFA referee in 1998.
Zhou Weixin was proved to have taken $77,829 to fix eight games and was sentenced to three years and six months in prison. In 2004 he awarded a penalty in a Chinese Super League match that prompted seven clubs to protest against the Chinese Football Association.
Wan Daxue was convicted of accepting $149,306 to influence games and was sentenced to six years in prison. Wan was known as a "patriotic whistle" because he appeared to favour China when he refereed international friendly matches.
Ex-director of the CFA referee committee, Zhang Jianqiang was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for bribery and non-state staff bribery, and was confiscated personal assets worth 250,000 yuan. Zhang took $378,071 in bribes from eight clubs and two local football administrative centers. Zhang was also convicted of non-state staff bribery by accepting $111,197 to ask referee Lu Jun to help Shanghai Shenhua beat Shanghai International in a crucial 2003 season top division league game and win the title of the league, after which Zhang and Lu split the money.
Yang Yimin, former Chinese Football Association (CFA) vice president, was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months for taking $199,202 for bribery by using his position as the CFA deputy director between 1997 and the end of 2009, to get the money from more than 20 companies and individuals. Yang also had personal property worth 200,000 yuan confiscated.
Dozens of other former players, coaches and officials also face trial or have already been tried for match-fixing and corruption.
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.