BEIJING (Reuters) - Two former Chinese football chiefs and several former national team players were handed lengthy jail sentences for taking bribes or match-fixing, state media reported on Wednesday, in a move to clean up rampant corruption in the sport.
Nan Yong, the former head of Chinese football, was sentenced to 10 1/2 years for taking bribes worth more than 1.48 million yuan ($232,300), the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xie Yalong, Nan’s predecessor, received an identical sentence and was fined 200,000 yuan for also taking bribes.
Nan and Xie are the highest-ranking officials to be caught up in an anti-graft campaign launched two years ago.
They told the courts they “need to consult with their respective attorneys to decide whether to appeal the verdicts”, Xinhua said.
Wei Shaohui, a former national team captain, received an identical sentence and fine as Xie, the report added.
Li Dongsheng, another former senior football official, was sentenced to nine years in prison for bribery and embezzlement.
Four former national team players Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming were also sentenced to up to six years in jail for matching-fixing, Xinhua said.
A total of 24 people were sentenced in trials held in two cities in northeastern China’s Liaoning province, including several former general managers at clubs throughout the country for taking bribes, gambling and racketeering.
Four referees were also jailed for up to six years for taking bribes.
The Chinese government has vowed to clean up corruption in the sport, which has been dogged by match-fixing scandals for years, along with violence both on and off the pitch.
Supporters have also endured a frustrating time following the national team, who were eliminated early in regional qualifying for the 2014 World Cup despite employing former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho.
China has only qualified for one World Cup finals tournament, the 2002 event co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, where they were knocked out in the group stage without scoring a goal.
Reporting by Sally Huang and Ben Blanchard; Editing by John O'Brien