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November 26, 2009

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Former top player key in soccer fix scandal

A FORMER top Chinese soccer player wanted by Interpol has become the linchpin of a large-scale investigation into match-fixing and gambling in Chinese soccer, the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.

Wang Xin, a former player from Liaoning Province who later became general manager of Liaoning Guangyuan club, was a key person being questioned to discover "more under-the-table deals."

The Ministry of Public Security told Xinhua yesterday in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning, that it had detained a number of former players, soccer officials and club officials, including Wang Xin, Wang Po, Ding Zhe and Yang Xu, on suspicion of "manipulating domestic soccer matches through commercial bribery."

Some were suspected of gambling through foreign Websites, said the ministry, which is heading the unprecedented large-scale inquiry.

Singapore scam

"During investigations into Wang Xin's match-rigging in Singapore, it was found that he also manipulated domestic matches through commercial bribery," police said.

Wang Xin has been wanted by Interpol in Singapore since the beginning of this year after he fled the city-state when his team's match-fixing in the local league was exposed.

Wang Xin was caught in Liaoning in April.

Police said Wang Xin and former Shanxi club General Manager Wang Po were suspected of manipulating a number of First Division league matches since 2006.

The First Division is the second-tier league in China.

Also mentioned in the scandal is current Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Pharmaceutical FC, which was promoted from the First Division in 2007.

Bets placed

Police said Wang Xin and Wang Po offered to lose to Guangzhou and the latter paid 200,000 yuan (US$ 29,294) for a 5-1 win in 2006.

Wang Xin and Wang Po then placed bets on the game to earn more than 100,000 yuan.

"The schemes were similar," said a Liaoning police officer on the inquiry team.

"Team A would take bribes from Team B to let B win, while players and officials from Team A, knowing the predetermined result, would wager through foreign gambling Websites."

Yang Xu, former Guangzhou Pharmaceutical FC deputy manager and vice president of Guangzhou Football Association, has been linked to the scam.

The ministry did not reveal how many people had been questioned in the inquiry or whether big names were involved but said the investigation was ongoing.

The nationwide crackdown was triggered by a police raid that seized a soccer-betting syndicate based in Shenyang.


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