China: former football federation president sentenced to life in prison for corruption

Life in prison: this is the sentence to which Chen Xuyuan, the former president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the state body which manages football and acts as of sports federation, as part of the vast anti-corruption campaign launched in the country

China: former football federation president sentenced to life in prison for corruption

Life in prison: this is the sentence to which Chen Xuyuan, the former president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the state body which manages football and acts as of sports federation, as part of the vast anti-corruption campaign launched in the country.

Chen Xuyuan took advantage of his position to “illegally accept money from other people totaling 81.03 million yuan,” or 10.4 million euros, according to state media Le Quotidien du people. A court in Hubei Province (central) therefore sentenced him to “life imprisonment for accepting bribes, lifelong loss of his political rights and confiscation of all his personal property”. The bribes received by Chen Xuyuan were "particularly enormous" and his actions had "serious consequences for the Chinese football sector", according to the same source.

The trial of the 67-year-old former leader took place in a gloomy context for Chinese football, with a weak national team, ingloriously eliminated from the Asian Cup, and a sporting image eaten away by embezzlement. . President Xi Jinping, himself a football fan, had great ambitions for the national team, but it, often mocked by the Chinese, remains stuck in 79th place in the FIFA rankings, the same level as there. is ten years old.

A dozen senior executives already dismissed

Chen Xuyuan headed the CFA between 2019 and 2023. In a resounding documentary on public television CCTV broadcast in January, he declared having received bribes from players in the football world wishing to attract his good graces. The latter had made him understand that this was the unspoken rule in the industry, according to him. In the documentary, Chen Xuyuan said he was incapable of enforcing anti-corruption rules during his mandate, implying that this amounted to investigating himself and people to whom he was accountable.

“Fans can accept the fact that the level of Chinese football is bad. But not condone corruption,” he conceded. “I would like to deeply apologize to all Chinese fans.”

His conviction is part of a major anti-corruption campaign initiated by Xi Jinping for a decade. In total, around ten senior Chinese football executives were dismissed for corruption.

The former coach also targeted by an investigation

Decisions on four other major cases of corruption in this sport are expected during the day on Tuesday, according to the Xinhua news agency.

This could include former China coach Li Tie, who has been under investigation for corruption since 2022 and is in pre-trial detention. In the CCTV documentary, the former player of the English club Everton admitted to having helped buy several matches which allowed the Chinese second division teams he managed to reach the elite. And to obtain his position as coach, he had Wuhan Zall, the club of which he was coach, pay two million yuan (255,000 euros) in bribes to Chen Xuyuan.

Li Tie also claimed to have given one million yuan (128,000 euros) out of his own pocket to the secretary general of the Chinese Football Federation. “I am very sorry. I should have stayed down to earth and followed the right path,” the 46-year-old technician said sheepishly on television. “There are certain things that, at the time, were common practices in football. »

Another case that caused scandal is that of South Korean international footballer Son Jun-ho, accused of “corruption” and detained for ten months in China, where he plays for a club. He has just been released and returned to his country, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.