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November 5, 2009

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2 ex-execs questioned for soccer betting

TWO former executives from a top-tier soccer club in southern China were assisting a police investigation after a suspected soccer-betting syndicate was caught allegedly manipulating domestic matches.

Yang Xu and Wu Xiaodong, vice general managers of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Football Club in 2006, were being questioned in Shenyang, capital of the northeastern Liaoning Province, together with a manager from a team in western China and several players from different teams, media reports said yesterday.

The suspected betting syndicate was seized in Shenyang about a week ago, when police started questioning the duo.Liaoning police reportedly declined to disclose more details about the case.

Led by the Ministry of Public Security, a nationwide crackdown is focusing on soccer betting. Several industry insiders have been arrested.

Soccer is one of China's most popular sports. However, many professional players and even club executives allegedly tried to profit by collaborating with betting companies instead of improving their skills and enlarging the audience.

The domestic sports news media Titan reported on its Website yesterday that the normal way to manipulate a match is to use 3 million yuan (US$439,367) of cash, two guards, a goal keeper and a forward.

A betting company often pays the cash to a well-connected figure on a team, such as a veteran. That person meets with players half an hour before a match to complete the deal and lay out a game plan.

If the result is not as expected, the person who took the money pays the betting company 6 million yuan unconditionally, said Titan.

China is seeking to improve its poor-performing soccer industry, which state leaders have vowed to revitalize.


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