Starting early: Under-11 football tournament in China hit by ‘match-fixing’ as team scores 24 goals in second half
Two Guangzhou teams apparently conspired to ensure a youth trophy stayed in the city
A team of schoolboy footballers in China have been convicted of ‘match-fixing’, according to mainland media reports.
Two sides from Guangzhou, Tikitaka and DongShanXiaoYe, faced each other in a youth tournament for teams in the Pearl River Delta last week.
DongShanXiaoYe needed a win by a big margin in the October 5 match to finish above Qingmaio, from Shunde.
At half-time they were losing 2-1, yet mounted a remarkable comeback in the second 45 minutes.
The final score? 25-2, with a curiously high number of own goals, ensuring the trophy stayed in Guangzhou.
The Guangzhou Football Association reprimanded coaches and parents, and banned the organiser of the tournament for three years, according to reports in China.
Some commenters in Chinese media asked what hope there was for the national team – who just suffered a humiliating defeat to Syria in World Cup qualifying – if even children’s tournaments were corrupt.
The story is all the more embarrassing for China given the country’s current push – instigated by President Xi Jinping – to become a “football superpower”.