A former World Cup referee was among several referees and football officials sentenced to jail for taking bribes to fix matches, reports in Beijing said.
State news agency Xinhua said Lu Jun, who officiated two matches in the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, was sentenced to five-and-half years in jail.
This is possibly the first high-profile sentencing of referees and officials in the government’s crackdown on corruption in football.
Lu was sentenced by a local court in northeast China for fixing at least seven league matches involving four clubs in exchange of more $ 128000.
According to Xinhua, the disgraced referee’s personal property worth more than $15000 was confiscated. Lu, easily China’s most well-known referee was often referred to as the `golden whistle’ and also officiated in 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Lu Feng, former manager of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) Super League Company – was convicted for taking bribes and sentenced to six years and six months in jail. His personal property worth 150,000 yuan (about 23,820 US dollars) was confiscated
“China's professional football leagues have been plagued with allegations of gambling, match-fixing and corruption for years. In order to clean up the game, a nationwide crackdown on gambling and match-fixing was launched by the government in 2009, when a high profile committee was set up by 12 ministry-level bodies,” the news agency reported.
It added that three of Lu Jung’s colleagues Huang Junjie, Zhou Weixin and Wan Daxue, were sentenced to seven, three-and-half and six years in jail respectively for fixing league matches and even some international friendly matches between clubs.
But amid all the gloomy news of graft in Chinese football, there is some good news as well: former French international player Nicolas Anelka finally arrived in Shanghai this week to take part in the coming Chinese Super League season. He will be playing for the Shanghai-bases Shenhua club.
Anelka is already getting the superstar treatment, according to China Daily. The newspaper quoted Ma Yue, the club's press official, as having said that the club offered several accommodation choices to Anelka, including a serviced apartment, a hotel and an independent villa. “For other foreign players, the club has only offered service apartments near the club's suburban training center or in flats near Gubei the past two seasons,” the newspaper said.
Shenhua is also chasing to rope in Anelka’s former teammate, Didier Drogba.