Former soccer No 2 weeps at bribes hearing
One of the highest-ranking mainland soccer officials charged with corruption, former Chinese Football Association (CFA) vice-chairman Yang Yimin, stood accused yesterday on the third day of trials of top soccer officials, club bosses and referees.
Yang, 55, broke down in tears during a hearing at the Tieling Intermediate People's Court in Liaoning . He was charged with accepting more than 1.2 million yuan (HK$1.47 million) in bribes, including two 100,000 yuan bribes from Shandong Luneng club in 2004.
At the Dandong Intermediate People's Court, also in Liaoning, Lu Jun, the first Chinese-born referee to oversee matches at the Olympics and World Cup finals, pleaded guilty to match-fixing and accepting bribes.
China Central Television reported that Lu pleaded guilty to taking 810,000 yuan in bribes to fix at least seven matches in the Jia A league in 2003. The top league on the mainland, it has since been rebranded as the Chinese Super League.
Lu admitted taking 350,000 yuan from Zhang Jianqiang, a former director of the CFA referees' committee, after Shanghai Shenhua thrashed Shanghai International 4-1 in a derby and went on to win the league championship that year.
Prosecutors said Shanghai Shenhua actually paid Lu and Zhang 5.5 million yuan via a middleman.
Lu, 52, was also found to have been the middleman in fixing a match between Tianjin Taida and Guangzhou Songri in 1999.
Lu's lawyer argued that he was innocent, saying the star referee was neither a government employee nor a company employee.
Another referee, Huang Junjie, on Tuesday confessed to taking US$240,000 to fix two friendly matches, Manchester United's 6-0 defeat of Shenzhen in 2007 and a 2-1 victory by Shanghai Shenhua over Sydney FC in 2009, CCTV reported. People bet heavily on those games.
A former general manager of the company that administers the Chinese Super League, Lu Feng, also went on trial yesterday, accused of taking 1.4 million yuan in bribes and paying 50,000 yuan in bribes to another CFA vice-chairman, Nan Yong, in exchange for favours.
More than 30 mainland soccer officials, club bosses and referees are on trial over accusations of match-fixing and gambling. No verdicts have been handed down yet.
Zhang, also a former head of women's soccer on the mainland, was charged with accepting 2.73 million yuan in bribes from at least nine mainland soccer clubs and regional soccer authorities between 1997 and 2009.
Zhang, Nan and another former CFA vice-chairman, Xie Yalong, were taken into custody in January last year. However, investigators are still looking into their cases and they are not among those facing trial this week.
Nan and Xie are likely to be tried as government employees, as Yang was, which criminal law specialists say means they are likely to face harsher penalties, even possible death sentences.