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February 3, 2010

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Soccer's new chief promises changes

CHINA'S new top soccer official named six problems in Chinese football in his first press conference yesterday, pledging more changes in the scandal-beleaguered game.

Wei Di, the newly appointed director of China's Soccer Administrative Center, said match-fixing and gambling have haunted professional soccer for too long, and the football authorities should be responsible for it.

Wei said the most serious malady of Chinese soccer lies in the administration.

"The outdated managing system in China's professional soccer was responsible for the current situation," Wei said. "The system has attracted criticisms and distorted the image of the game."

Wei said it is apparent some soccer officials have a lower threshold of morality and have fostered match-rigging and gambling over the years. But he said he was confident of changing the situation.

The General Administration of Sport appointed Wei Di to the post after former chief Nan Yong was taken by police in a match-rigging investigation.

A sweeping probe of match fixing and bribery allegations has netted more than a dozen players and officials.

They include Wei's predecessor, Nan Yong, now under detention along with association vice chairman Yang Yimin, and the former director of its referee committee association, Zhang Jianqiang.

The association faced further disgrace with media reports last week saying that Chinese players paid large bribes for places at the national football team's training camp, and even bigger payoffs to play in international matches.

Chinese soccer has long been regarded as a national disgrace. China's national men's team is ranked at 93rd in the world, even behind Iraq and Haiti.


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