Former Chinese soccer chief goes on trial for graft

IANS

Tieling (Liaoning Province), April 25 (IANS) Former Chinese soccer chief credited with leading the Chinese team into their only World Cup finals was put on bribery trial here Wednesday.

Nan Yong, the former director of the Chinese Football Administrative Center, stood trial on multiple charges of bribe-taking in Tieling, one day after his predecessor Xie Yalong faced court in Dandong, another Liaoning city, reports Xinhua.

At the same time, the trials against four Chinese top players started in Shenyang, Liaoning's provincial capital.

The 50-year-old Nan, named as a vice chairman of the Chinese Football Association at the age of 35, was instrumental in China's only appearance in the World Cup finals as he hired Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic despite voices of opposition and oversaw the qualifying campaign as the team's chef-de-mission.

Nan was arrested in 2010 with his associates Yang Yimin and Zhang Jianqiang, who had been sentenced in February's bribery trials to 10 1/2 years and 12 years in prison respectively.

In Dandong, Li Dongsheng, the former head of the CFA's referees committee, faced charges of bribery and embezzlement.

Qi Hong and Jiang Jin, the key players in China's successful run to the 2002 World Cup finals, were on trial with Shen Si and Li Ming.

The four former Chinese national team members were accused of taking bribes to fix a 2003 Chinese league game, in which their team, Shanghai Guoji, lost 2-1 to Tianjin Teda.

The result sent their crosstown rival Shanghai Shenhua to the league title and prevented Tianjin from being relegated.

Sources said that the four players received bribes totaling 8 million yuan ($1.27 million).

Nan and Xie Yalong are the highest ranking officials caught in China's ever-widening crackdown on soccer corruption, which has brought down dozens of high-ranking soccer officials, referees and players.

Tuesday's trial against Xie lasted nearly 11 hours and was eventful as his defence team moved to have all his confessions abandoned since they were obtained 'illegally'.

Xie, charged with taking over 1.7 million yuan ($273,000) in bribes, told the court that he had confessed to some of the alleged charges since someone had 'forced him' during earlier interrogations.

According to the court documents, Xie's bribery dated back to 1998 when he was director of the Mass Sports Department of the State General Administration of Sports.

'Between May and June in 1998, Xie received 200,000 yuan (1 U.S. dollar =6.3 yuan) from a Qingdao sports equipment manufacturer,' read the indictment.

Xie has also been indicted on taking bribes totaling 1,527,800 yuan in his capacity as the director of the Football Administrative Center and CFA executive deputy chairman between 2005 and 2008.

'He received 178,400 yuan from Li Tong, Nike China's marketing director, for helping Nike win a title sponsorship deal with the Chinese Super League,' said the indictment.

Xie also allegedly accepted 50,000 yuan from Zhu Guanghu in 2006 in return for keeping him as the national team head coach and received 319,700 yuan from the Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals cl

Xie's lawyer Jin Xiaoguang told People's Daily official website that his defendant feared for his life during the interrogations and confessed to crimes he did not commit 'because he wanted to stay alive.'

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