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Corruption trial of top China soccer official opens

Xie Yalong, the ex-head of China’s football league, has gone on trial in the north-eastern city of Dandong over corruption charges.

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Xie, 56, who was chief of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) for three years, is accused of taking bribes. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Xie Yalong, the former head of China’s football league, has gone on trial in the north-eastern city of Dandong over corruption charges, as China steps up its efforts to clean up the game.

Xie, 56, who was chief of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) for three years, is accused of taking bribes, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

He is the highest-ranking ex-football official to face justice.

His successor, Nan Yong, will also stand trial on bribe-taking charges in a different court in Liaoning province on Wednesday, as will four former Chinese international players, the Agence France Presse reports.

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China has widened the net in its crackdown on football corruption, ensnaring dozens of officials, referees and players since it launched in 2009.

The trials of Wei Shaohui, former manager of the Chinese national team, and Li Dongsheng, ex-head of the CFA’s referee committee, also opened on Tuesday.

A top referee, Lu Jun, who officiated at the World Cup, was jailed in February for five years for taking more than $128,000 in bribes to fix the outcomes of seven football league games, according to the BBC.

Corruption has long cast a shadow over football in Asia, with the Asian Football Confederation denouncing match-fixing as a “cancer” that is killing the game.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120424/corruption-trial-top-china-soccer-official-opens