Soccer: Chinese referee admits fixing games

Huang Junjie admitted to accepting more than $US246,000 in bribes to fix two international friendlies. Photo / Getty Images
Huang Junjie admitted to accepting more than $US246,000 in bribes to fix two international friendlies. Photo / Getty Images

A well-known Chinese referee confessed in court to accepting bribes for fixing games, including a Manchester United fixture, amid a series of corruption hearings involving top football officials.

Huang Junjie admitted to accepting more than $US246,000 in bribes to fix two international friendlies as well as six Chinese club matches between 2005 and 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The tainted matches that Huang officiated include a 2007 exhibition match between English Premier League champions Manchester United and China's Shenzhen FC.

He also took charge of a 2009 fixture between A-League club Sydney FC and China's Shanghai Shenhua.

The veteran of more than 20 years - who in 2009 was among three shortlisted for best Chinese referee of the year - also confessed to accepting bribes from his colleague Zhou Weixin to sway results, the report added.

Zhou is facing charges of corruption as well as bribing civil servants, Xinhua said.

Corruption hearings against some of China's top footballing officials kicked off Monday with Zhang Jianqiang, the former head referee of the Super League, in court to face charges of accepting match-fixing bribes totalling $409,600.

Referee Lu Jun, who had previously officiated World Cup and Olympic football matches, will stand trial Wednesday while about 20 other former officials and referees are to face the courts later this week.

The hearings are part of a crackdown on corruption that have reached the top echelons of the game in China, and led to the downfall of the head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA)

Gambling, match-fixing, crooked referees and poor performances by the national team made the sport the laughing stock of increasingly indifferent fans, and a matter of state concern.

According to state media, CFA officials routinely fixed matches, including national team and league games, by allegedly buying off the teams or referees involved.

Association officials also reportedly accepted pay-offs from players who wanted to be named to the national team - a practice widespread among league clubs also.

Sponsors abandoned the sport, and state television network CCTV refused to broadcast Super League games.

- AFP

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