The former chairman of the Chinese Football Association was sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes – state media

Former China National Football Association chairman Chen Xuyuan has been sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes, state media reported on Tuesday, following one of the biggest anti-corruption investigations in football in years.

The harsh sentence for Chen, 67, ends an investigation into top Chinese football officials in a sport that has long struggled with corruption, which fans blame for the national team’s chronic poor performance.

In the final episode of a four-part corruption documentary series that aired on state television in January, Chen said that the night before he became president of the Chinese Football Association in 2019, he received multiple backpacks, each containing 300,000 yuan ($41,600) from two local football officials who wanted him to “take care of them.”

Public admissions of corrupt practices, often committed under duress, have become a common fixture on state television since President Xi Jinping came to power and launched a massive anti-corruption campaign that has also embarrassed the football world.

A court in central Hubei province found that Chen used his various positions, including those related to the Chinese Football Association, to act for others between 2010 and 2023 in matters including project contracting, investment operations and sports event arrangements, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. provide help.

The court found that in return, Chen received money and valuables worth more than 81 million yuan ($11.2 million).

Citing the court ruling, Xinhua News Agency said Chen had caused “huge damage” to Chinese football.

Other football officials under investigation include Chen Yongliang, former deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Football Association, Yu Hongchen, former vice-chairman of the Chinese Football Association, and Dong Zheng, former general manager of the Chinese Super League.

Chen Yongliang was sentenced to 14 years in prison, Yu was sentenced to 13 years in prison and Dong was sentenced to eight years in prison, state media reported on Tuesday.

In 2012, former Chinese Football Association chairman Xie Yalong and his successor Nan Yong were each sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison for taking bribes in China’s last great web of football corruption.

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