Three Chinese Football Association (CFA) officials, including Nan Yong, former head of soccer in China, have been put under criminal detention, becoming the most senior officials to be hit in a crackdown on soccer corruption, the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.
The ministry also unveiled the latest and largest case so far on match-fixing. Fan Guangming, another former CFA official, was confirmed as an intermediate in a 1.5 million-yuan ($219,000) match-fixing deal, the ministry said.
Nan was taken away by police for questioning on Jan 15 from his office at the General Administration of Sport of China and subsequently dismissed from his position as executive vice-president of the CFA last Thursday.
Nan's criminal detention, which is usually followed by arrest and prosecution, implies that solid evidence of his illegal conduct has been found.
The ministry did not disclose the specific charge for Nan, but media reports said Nan is suspected of being involved in a long-time financial row with British company Iphox, the former title sponsor of the Chinese football league.
Nan was in charge of contract signing but did not take action after the company failed to pay more than 50 million yuan within the stipulated time, the report said.
Yang Yimin, another CFA vice-president, and Zhang Jianqiang, the women's soccer chief who was also in charge of referee arrangements, are also under criminal detention, the ministry said.
Yang is suspected of taking bribes from clubs in the domestic league and manipulating matches to help a team from southern China rise in rankings last season, according to major information portal Sohu.com.
The details of match-fixing between Guangzhou Pharmaceutical FC and Zhejiang Greentown FC in the second A-level league in 2006 were also exposed yesterday.
The Guangzhou club was expected to be promoted to the Chinese Super League, the nation's top-class league, in the following season, and as such wanted to buy over a core player of Zhejiang.
Yang Xu, vice-general manager of the Guangzhou club, first contacted then CFA official Fan to help him with the deal.
Fan, through two other middlemen, Leng Bo and Xing Rui, got in touch with Shen Liuxi, then an attacking midfielder of the Zhejiang club.
Fan asked the Guangzhou club for 1.5 million-yuan, instead of the 800,000 yuan required by the player. The deal was done and Guangzhou won 3:2.
Fan and Leng both got 250,000 yuan. Xing earned 330,000 yuan and Shen shared the rest 670,000 yuan with one of his fellow players.
Fan, who was taken away by police in November and kept in custody since then, was a former official in charge of commercials of the association.
As the only official in the sports' ruling body involved in the nationwide crackdown before his boss Nan was detained, Fan is also believed to have manipulated matches between Chinese clubs and overseas clubs in Singapore.
In an interview with State broadcaster CCTV yesterday, Fan admitted a weak implementation of CFA measures against match gambling and manipulation.
"The problems have been existing for more than 10 years. As the administrator, we talked a lot but took little action. There were few measures and they were not stern enough," Fan said.
"Just like a match at the National Games, both teams could advance to the next round with a draw and they just didn't attack."