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January 26, 2010

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Shaanxi soccer boss held, paper says

ONE more soccer boss was reported taken by police while seven other officials were forced to cancel a trip abroad, as the investigation into alleged match-fixing and gambling continued to unfold.

Li Zhimin, president of Shaanxi Guoli football club, was taken by police two weeks ago for alleged involvement in match-fixing, Titan Weekly, a sports newspaper, quoted an insider as saying yesterday.

Li's girlfriend and another two officials of the Shaanxi club were also suspected of being taken, as their mobile phones have been shut off since last week, the newspaper said.

The insider told the newspaper that Li's confession to police might have implicated Jia Xiuquan, former head coach of Shanghai's Shenhua club who was questioned by police.

Meanwhile, a planned visit to Netherlands by seven officials of the Chinese Football Association was canceled, sparking speculation that one or more of them were investigated.

Su Maozhen, coach of China's national youth team, who was among the seven, said he did not know what happened, although he was told that one in their party was prevented from traveling abroad because of allegations involving match-fixing.


In related news, a Party disciplinary watchdog has stepped into the probe of Nan Yong, former vice president of the Chinese Football Association.

This brings the focus on cleaning up Chinese football onto investigating corrupt officials, Chongqing Evening News reported yesterday.

Nan was taken by police on January 15 along with Deputy Director Yang Yimin and head of referees Zhang Jianqiang.

As government officials, the three were most likely put under double designation status, which requires Party or government officials to explain alleged crimes or disciplinary violations at a set place and time, Tian Fu Zao Bao newspaper reported yesterday.

The authority has not explained their whereabouts so far and their families could not contact them. Nan's wife has been seeking her husband ever since he was taken.

A police officer in the investigation team said details of the case have been kept extremely confidential, and that whoever leaks information to media will be punished severely.


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