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Football penalties 'too soft'

2013-02-19 07:47

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No team relegated in CFA penalties

CFA bans 33 people for life, fines clubs, but no team is relegated

by China Daily reporter Tang Zhe

Penalties handed out on Monday by China's top soccer body to individuals and clubs involved in the country's largest match-fixing scandal were slammed as inadequate by commentators.

After a three-year investigation, the Chinese Football Association issued lifetime bans on 33 people, including some previously jailed for involvement in match-fixing.

The harshest penalty imposed on clubs was handed out to Shanghai Shenhua. It was fined 1 million yuan ($158,000), stripped of the 2003 title and also had six points deducted from next season's campaign.

The club was found guilty of fixing matches by offering bribes of 350,000 yuan to former CFA official Zhang Jianqiang. Zhang arranged for referee Lu Jun to fix a 4-1 victory for the Shanghai team in a crucial match in its title-winning season in 2003 against rival Shanghai International.

Fellow top-division side Tianjin Teda were also fined 1 million yuan and given a six-point deduction next season for fixing a 2003 league game.

But these penalties were criticized as being too soft and the CFA was accused of double standards.

"The punishment is not fair to the former Guangzhou team and Chengdu Sheffield United. When they were found guilty of match-fixing, three years ago, they were relegated," said Liu Yong, a soccer journalist at Guangzhou newspaper News Express.

"How can today's punishments convince the public?" Liu asked.

Xu Jiren, sports head of Xinhua News Agency, said: "I personally think the punishment is not enough. It is regretful that no clubs were relegated this time."

"The clubs punished on Monday are no less guilty than the relegated clubs and the CFA should learn from what Europe has done."

French club Marseille was relegated in 1994 to the second division due to financial irregularities and a match fixing scandal. Moreover, it was stripped of its 1992-93 first division title and the right to play in the UEFA Champions League in 1993-94.

Juventus, one of the leading Italian clubs, went through a similar crisis in 2006. It was relegated and had a 30-point deduction. It was also stripped of its Serie A titles in 2005 and 2006, and barred from the Champions League that season.

Liang Yan, a host at Beijing Sports Radio, said the punishments meted out on Monday show that the Chinese league is not professional in its approach.

"The CFA should look at what other leagues have done if it wants to build a professional league," Liang said.

In an online poll on, almost 80 percent of participants said the punishments were too light.

China Central Television commentator Liu Jianhong called for supervision to regulate the league and said the scandal was a sad day for soccer.

"What should we do to ensure a clean future for Chinese soccer? Apart from an explanation regarding the punishments, the CFA should also plan for the future. A league without long-term supervision cannot be properly organized," Liu wrote on his micro blog.

Former soccer chiefs Xie Yalong, Nan Yong, Yang Yimin, and World Cup referee Lu Jun were among 33 who received lifetime bans.

Former internationals - Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming - all serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence for bribery, were also banned for life.

Xu Hong, who recently took the helm of super league club Dalian Aerbin, was among 25 people banned from the game for five years.

The campaign to clean up soccer, launched in 2009, saw Nan and Xie jailed for corruption, along with a number of former internationals and top referees.

Nan and Xie were both given sentences of more than 10 years.

The punishments were announced just after Wei Di stepped down as chief of the CFA after three years.

Highlights of CFA penalties

Punishments on clubs  

Shenhua stripped of 2003 league title >>>

Football penalties 'too soft'

Shanghai Shenhua was found guilty of fixing a game against Shanxi Guoli en route to winning the 2003 league title. The club was fined 1 million yuan ($160,000) and deducted six points for next season. [Full story]

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.

Punishments on individuals

33 individuals banned for life from the soccer-related activities >>>

Football penalties 'too soft'

Xie Yalong, Nan Yong, Yang Yimin
(former football chiefs)

Zhang Jianqiang, Wei Shaohui, Li Dongsheng (former CFA high-ranking officials)

Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin, Li Ming
(former national team players)

Lu Jun, Huang Junjie, Zhou Weixin 
(former renowned referees)

25 individuals banned for five years from the soccer-related activities >>>

Football penalties 'too soft'

Football officials get jail terms >>>

CFA exploring ways to save Chinese football

A new football boss

Football penalties 'too soft' 

Zhang Jian, 47, former director of Policy and Regulation Department of China's Gerneral Administration of Sport, formally replaced Wei Di as the Chinese soccer chief. [Full story]

Wei Di steps down

Football penalties 'too soft'

Enhancing support for football

    China's top sports official said that more favorable policies and financial support will be provided for the development of the popular ball sports, especially football, by the government. [Full story]

    To explore new avenues to develop soccer, five cities - Qingdao, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Dalian and Wuhan - were chosen by the General Administration of Sport of China and the CFA for a pilot program to implement a more hands-on approach to save the game in China. [Full story]

Cultivating young football talent 

Spain: Wanda Group announced that 30 male soccer players aged around 13 will complete a three-year training course at three of the best clubs in the Spain Primera Division, Valencia CF, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal CF. [Full story] 

Portugal: Some 24 young Chinese footballers will head for Portugal for a two-year program at the end of this month. All the players, to be dispersed between eight or nine Portuguese second and third-tier clubs will seal their contracts with the clubs, and will take part in the country's junior leagues after registering with the Portuguese Football Federation. [Full story]

Fund: The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation officially set up the Youth Soccer Development Fund in Beijing and will collect millions of yuan every year to support its Soong Ching Ling Soccer Academies in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and Yanbian, Jilin province. [Full story]

Special coverage on football corruption crackdown 

Football penalties 'too soft'