Police detain three soccer referees

08:37, March 17, 2010      

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Lu Jun (File Photo)

Now Chinese soccer fans get at least a clue as to why their beloved sport has barely made any progress in the past 20 or so years. It's because of rampant corruption.

Two months after three leading officials in charge of China's national soccer federation were detained, now another group of whistlers have been caught by police.

Three referees, including the once-renowned "golden whistler" Lu Jun from Beijing, have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes in the home league, the news was confirmed by the country's newly appointed president of the soccer association, Mr. Wei Di.

Sources disclosed that the arrest of the three celebrated referees is an indication that the authorities have solid evidence of their involvement in match fixing and asking for benefits from the vested soccer clubs.

"We don't know what sentences they will get But we can see these referees must have contributed to the problem of match fixing and manipulation," Mr. Wei said.

"I can only confirm that Lu Jun, Zhou Weixin and Huang Junjie have been arrested, but the police wouldn't tell me the details," Mr. Wei said.

"I was really shocked and hurt when Lu's name appeared in the scandal. He is undoubtedly a first-rate referee in terms of working ability, but his morals are a far cry from his 'golden whistler' reputation," Mr. Wei said, wearily.

Lu, 51, who has umpired more than 200 matches in the domestic league between 1991 and 2005, and was once deemed as the most fair referee on courts. He became the first Chinese to supervise the renowned World Cup games when he umpired two matches at the 2002 Cup tournaments held in Japan and South Korea. He has also been conferred with the "Referee of the Year" award by the Asian Football Confederation twice.

Zhou, another former referee in the domestic league, was handed an eight-match suspension due to a misjudgment in 2004, after which he resigned from refereeing, said a report from the Beijing-based China Daily Tuesday.

Huang, the only one of the three who was still active, was nominated for the "best referee" award for last season's Chinese Super League.

Scandal Leads to Downfall of Officials

Wei also said the new season, which kicks off on Mar 27, will have 20 percent new referees.

In early January this year, three Chinese Football Association officials, including Nan Yong, a former head of soccer, were arrested facing criminal charges for accepting bribery and engaging in soccer gambling.

Nan was detained for questioning on Jan 15 from his office at the General Administration of Sport of China, and subsequently was dismissed from his position as executive vice-president of the CFA.

Yang Yimin, another CFA vice-president, and Zhang Jian-qiang, the women's soccer chief who was also in charge of referee arrangements, were also pout under criminal detention.

Yang is suspected of taking bribes from clubs in the domestic league and manipulating matches to help a team from south China rise in rankings last season.

By People's Daily Online
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