China strips Shenhua of 2003 league title, bans 33 people for life

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) on Monday stripped Shanghai Shenhua of the 2003 league title and banned 33 people for life, rounding off a three-year-long drive to clean up Chinese soccer.

The Shanghai club, among the 12 clubs which received “disciplinary punishments” by the CFA on Monday afternoon, was fined 1 million yuan (160,000 US dollars) and deducted six points for next season.

Shenhua was found guilty of fixing a game against Shanxi Guoli en route to winning the 2003 league title.

Thirty-three people, including former soccer chiefs Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, who are both serving a 10 1/2 years jail sentence for taking bribes, were banned for life from the soccer-related activities.

Also banned for life were former deputy head Yang Yimin, 2002 World Cup referee Lu Jun and four international players – Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming, who are serving a 5-1/2 years jail term for bribe-taking.

“These violations of CFA regulations include match-fixing, bribing giving and taking, and gambling,” said a spokesman for the CFA discipline commission. “Some violations dated back to over 10 years ago.”

The spokesman blamed “the lack of legal criteria, imperfect soccer system and lax supervision and management” on rampant corruption in Chinese soccer.

Former international Xu Hong, who recently took the helm of super league club Dalian Arbin as head coach, was among the 25 people banned from the game for five years.

Super league club Tianjin Teda was fined 1 million yuan and will start next season with minus six points for fixing a 2003 league game against Shanghai International.

Jilin Yanbian, a northeastern Chinese club, was fined 500,000 yuan and deducted three points for throwing a match in 2006.

Yu Changlong, deputy sports head of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province, disputed the punishment.

“I just say one word – appeal,” said Yu.

The discipline committee demanded Shenhua, Teda and Yanbian to return the awards they won during the years of wrongdoing.

Shandong Luneng was fined 1 million yuan, and Changchun Yatai, Jiangsu Shuntin and Henan Jianye each 500,000 yuan on the charge of bribery.

The soccer-cleaning campaign, launched in 2009, saw Nan Yong and Xie Yalong jailed, along with a number of former international footballers, top referees and officials.

The announcement on punishments came just after Wei Di stepped down as chief of the CFA after a three-year tenure which saw the sport’s shameful past of match-fixing and bribery finally tackled.

The 58-year-old Wei was removed over poor results and a need to prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

During Wei’s tenure, the team missed out on the 2012 Olympics and failed to reach the 2014 World Cup after finishing third in a group topped by Iraq and Jordan.

By Xinhua Sportswriters Cao Jianjie and Gong Bing

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