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Probe launched into farcical scenes in provincial final

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-16 09:04
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A controversial youth soccer match at Guangdong's provincial games is being investigated by authorities for alleged match-fixing.

"A team has been formed to investigate the under-15 boys' soccer final between Guangzhou and Qingyuan. The aim is to seek the truth from the facts. We have zero tolerance toward match-fixing and we will conduct a thorough investigation in accordance with the law," read a statement from the province's discipline inspection and supervision authorities on Monday.

The final was staged in Qingyuan, Guangdong province, on Aug 7. Leading 3-1 approximately midway through the second half, Qingyuan's players appeared to suddenly stop trying to compete, merely strolling aimlessly around the pitch instead. That allowed Guangzhou to score four times in 13 minutes to emerge a 5-3 winner.

With the match replay being broadcast online, the episode became trending news on social media. The hashtag "Possible match-fixing at Guangdong provincial games' soccer final" had been viewed over 170 million times on Weibo by noon on Monday, with most netizens expressing disbelief at the strange goings-on.

"Those 13 minutes were so weird, including the number of players and their attitude on the pitch. Up until the 20th minute of the second half, Qingyuan led 3-1. However, for the next 10 minutes, there were just 10 Qingyuan players on the pitch. The best evidence is just the replay of the match," soccer commentator Dong Lu wrote online.

The Chinese Football Association has launched a separate probe into the final, with the nation's soccer governing body dispatching a team of investigators to Guangdong.

"During the final, the performances of both teams were widely questioned and attracted huge attention. The Chinese Football Association has attached great importance to the incident and launched an investigation," read a CFA announcement last week.

"The CFA always pays close attention to all acts that violate sports ethics, including match-fixing and game manipulation.

"If we find evidence that any person or organization manipulated the game in any way and violated the principle of fair play, we will deal with it seriously."

The controversy comes at a challenging time for Chinese soccer, which is already reeling from the floundering performances of the national teams and flagging public interest in the professional domestic leagues.

"Anyone who watches the replay of the match will be shocked. The Qingyuan team had totally different performances in the first and second halves. Some players' performances even made fans speechless, leading them to wonder what was the reason for these farcical scenes," read a commentary by

"However, without the results of the investigation, all we have is just speculation. The question is whether these players were involved in match-fixing. If they were, they should be punished and we should know who's behind it. If not, we need to make it clear what was going on."

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