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China Jails Former Soccer Chiefs for Taking Bribes, Xinhua Says

Two former Chinese soccer chiefs were each sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison for taking bribes and four ex-national team players were given shorter sentences as part of a crackdown on corruption, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, who both served as director of the government-run Chinese Football Administrative Center, were also fined 200,000 yuan ($31,400), Xinhua reported today, citing court judgments.

Nan and Xie are the highest-ranking officials to be sentenced since China began a nationwide campaign in March 2009 to root out graft in local soccer. They told the courts they need to consult with their respective attorneys before deciding whether to appeal the verdicts, Xinhua said.

Former Chinese national team manager Yu Shaohui received the same jail term for taking bribes, Xinhua reported. Li Dongsheng, the administrative center’s former technical director, was sentenced to nine years for bribery and embezzlement, according to the news agency.

Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming, who all played for China’s national team, were each sentenced to at least 5 1/2 years in prison for fixing a Chinese league game, Xinhua reported. Each of the former players was also fined 500,000 yuan, Xinhua reported.

Dozens of players, coaches, referees and officials have been detained and sentenced in the campaign, undermining soccer’s popularity in China. The national team made its only appearance at the sport’s four-yearly World Cup in 2002.

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