By Tang Yue
The crackdown on gambling and match fixing in Chinese soccer reached a climax on Tuesday as the first of two trials of former heads of the game opened.
Xie Yalong appeared before Dandong Intermediate People's Court in Northeast China's Liaoning province, with his successor, Nan Yong, due to face a court in Tieling, also in Liaoning, on Wednesday.
However, while the first-round trials of officials and referees in February went uncontested, Xie, head of the Chinese Football Association from 2005-08, has denied some of the charges against him.
Xie, 56, has been charged with taking more than 1.7 million yuan ($273,000) in bribes on 12 occasions between 1998 and 2008, including 178,400 yuan from a leading executive in China for US sportswear giant Nike, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The prosecutor initially advised a lighter punishment, since Xie had confessed and cooperated with authorities.
But Xie's lawyer, Jin Xiaoguang, told Five-star Sports TV channel that Xie had denied "parts of the charges" during the morning session and claimed he was tortured into making a confession through the use of "electric shock, cold water, prohibition of sleep".
Xie was also told his family would be held in custody until he admitted the crime, Jin claimed.
"Xie had asked for the exclusion of evidence obtained illegally," Jin said.
In an interview with China Central Television in 2011, Xie admitted he had received 200,000 yuan from Shandong Luneng Football Club in 2006, and 50,000 yuan from the agent of Ratomir Dujkovic, then head coach of the Chinese men's Olympic team.
"I've done something good for Chinese soccer. But there was also a lot I failed to do. I admit I didn't stick to the principle and violated the law. I should be responsible for what I've done," Xie had told CCTV.
Xie and Nan are the highest-ranking officials to be caught in China's nationwide crackdown on soccer corruption, which has brought down dozens of leading soccer officials, referees and players.
Nan will stand trial on bribe-taking charges on Wednesday while Li Dongsheng, the former chief of the CFA referee committee, will also be tried in Dandong.
Former national team players Qi Hong, Shen Si, Li Ming and Jiang Jin, who are alleged to have accepted a total of 8 million yuan for fixing the result of a last-round game between Shanghai International and Tianjin Teda in 2003, will be in court at Shenyang on Wednesday.
In February, Yang Yimin, a former CFA vice-president, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Lu Jun, once dubbed "gold whistle" and the nation's only referee to have officiated at a World Cup, was sentenced to five years and six months for accepting 810,000 yuan in bribes between 1999 and 2003.
Xinhua contributed to this story.