BEIJING (AP) — Two former heads of the Chinese Football Association are among eight officials and players on trial for bribery in a major push to punish those who have long tarnished the sport.
Courts in the northeastern province of Liaoning have started hearing the cases of Xie Yalong and his successor, Nan Yong. Xie is accused of taking $273,000 in bribes from sports equipment manufacturers, professional clubs, and a former national team coach. Nan is accused of taking at least $160,000 in bribes.
Others on trial include former national team manager Wei Shaohui, former head of referees Li Dongsheng, and four former national team players.
Xie's lawyers moved to have his confessions ruled inadmissible, claiming they were obtained by torture.
He told the court he confessed to some of the allegations because someone "forced him" under interrogation.
Xie's lawyer Jin Xiaoguang told the People's Daily website that the defendant confessed to crimes he did not commit "because he wanted to stay alive."
Chinese football has long suffered from the bribing of coaches, players, and officials by gambling syndicates. Those actions have been blamed for depressing the quality of play in China. China has made it to only one World Cup, in 2002, under Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic — Nan Yong's controversial pick to lead the team.
New anti-graft measures, stronger finances, and the import of expensive foreign talent has since lifted the China Super League, although current CFA boss Wei Di on Wednesday warned against backsliding.