Thursday, 25 February 2010

Crackdown on soccer spreads to top team

One of the mainland’s most successful and popular soccer clubs has been dragged into the sweeping crackdown on the sport, a report said yesterday, as the country’s top football management body announced punishments for three other clubs for match-fixing.

1 comment:

Guanyu 道 said...

Crackdown on soccer spreads to top team

Former officials at Shandong club held

Choi Chi-yuk
24 February 2010

One of the mainland’s most successful and popular soccer clubs has been dragged into the sweeping crackdown on the sport, a report said yesterday, as the country’s top football management body announced punishments for three other clubs for match-fixing.

With scores of former top executives recently taken away for investigation, Shandong Luneng Taishan Football Club, one of the strongest teams in the Chinese Super League (CSL), had become the latest target of the clampdown on rampant soccer-related corruption, China News Service reported yesterday.

The Chinese Football Association’s (CFA) disciplinary department penalised two CSL teams and one second-tier team for their roles in match-rigging. Second-tier Jia League team Qingdao Hailifeng was stripped of its licence and CSL clubs Guangzhou Pharmaceutical and Chengdu Blades were relegated to the Jia League.

China News Service said players and staff of the Shandong club were in turmoil on Monday, amid speculation about the “disappearance” of former club general managers Dong Gang and Kang Mengjun, as they prepared for their first match in this year’s Asian Champions League today, away to Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Several sports newspapers also carried reports on the seemingly troubled Luneng club.

Luneng, founded in 1998, has been crowned CSL champion twice, in 2006 and 2008, and has won the CFA Cup four times. It finished fourth in the CSL in the last season.

China News Service said Dong and Kang had been taken away for investigation days before the Lunar New Year holiday. It also quoted an unnamed Luneng official as saying that several mid-ranking club officials had also detained by the authorities recently.

Li Chengpeng, a well-known soccer commentator, said Luneng, run and supported by a state-owned enterprise - coal, power and property giant Shandong Luneng Group - could be facing more serious penalties than civilian-run clubs such as the Guangzhou and Chengdu sides.

“As a state-owned enterprise official who has been detained, I dare say he [Dong] must have something to do with corruption,” Li said.

China News Service quoted Ma Chengquan, a CFA disciplinary official, as saying: “Luneng? We will axe them without hesitation, as long as we have tangible proof against them.

“We have already amended relevant regulations to support us in doing that. But of course, we don’t want to do that, if we can avoid it.”

In 2003, the Shandong club was penalised 800,000 yuan for bribing a referee and Dong, then a leading club official, was given a serious warning.

Ma said Luneng would be relegated if Dong was found to have bribed a referee on its behalf again. Dong is also suspected of rigging a match and involvement in gambling.

Meanwhile, Wang Jun, a vice-minister of the General Administration of Sports, was removed from office yesterday, along with the deputy heads of other agencies, including the Xinhua News Agency and the Culture Ministry.

Wang, 61, was a vice-chairman of the CFA before his promotion to the sports ministry in 2003.

It is not clear whether Wang’s removal was linked to the soccer crackdown or was part of a normal reshuffle of officials of retirement age.