Anti-graft move 'helped' improve China's football team

Updated: 2015-01-25 14:49


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Anti-graft move 'helped' improve China's football team

Screen shot taken in this June 2012 file photo shows Nan Yong, former head of Chinese football, who was accused of accepting bribes for fixing games, at a court. Nan was sentenced to 10 and a half years for taking bribes worth more than 1.48 million yuan ($237,500). [Photo/IC]

China's top anti-graft watchdog on Saturday said the anti-corruption campaign targeting the country's top sports body has become one of the factors in China's improved performance at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China published a commentary on its website, linking China's ongoing campaign against corruption with its best national football team in 11 years. The team made it all the way to the quarterfinals where it lost to host country Australia.

"Chinese authorities' campaign to crack down on match-fixing and gambling scandals that involved top sports officials played an important role in helping regenerate the Chinese football team, although a number of other factors also accounted for the three consecutive wins at the Asian Cup – including China coach Alain Perrin's efforts to reform the team and the young footballers' morale and fighting spirit," said the article.

It is not the first time for the top anti-graft watchdog penned opinion pieces denouncing corruption on the football pitch.

In November last year, it criticized the football governing body for malpractices in a series of official corruption and game-manipulating scandals. "The scandals have tarnished the game's improvement and international image", the watchdog opined .

The Party's disciplinary watchdog began an investigation into the General Administration of Sport of China, the country's top governing body for sports, in November last year.

A number of malpractice cases and violations caused by the body's centralized bureaucracy were discovered during the inspection.

"Some of the processes of sporting event bidding and approval, athlete recruitment and referee appointments were not conducted under open and transparent supervision," the comission reported.

Experts said the investigation shows that the country's anti-graft campaign has set its sights on the sports field, in which the football sector would be the main target.

China started a nationwide crackdown on football corruption in 2009, as many believed that the match-fixing, gambling, bribery and embezzlement that ravaged the Chinese professional footabll leagues was the hurdle that hampered the development of Chinese football in the past.

In early 2012, the Chinese Football Association announced the punishment of 33 individuals, including former top football officials, renowned players, referees and 12 clubs involved in match-fixing scandals.

In the same year, two former directors of the Chinese Football Administrative Center, Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, were both sentenced to more than 10 years of imprisonment for taking bribes. Six other people including key players and a referee, Lu Jun, who joined World Cup referee team were also put behind bars.

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