China has continued its crackdown on corruption in soccer by jailing three ex-football association heads and several former national team players.
Dozens of former officials, players and referees have been sent to jail in a sweeping crackdown on match-fixing and gambling in China.
On Wednesday, courts in China's northeastern province of Liaoning sentenced several former football chiefs to 10 and a half years in jail after charging them with accepting bribes.
Nan Yong, a former Chinese Football Association chief, was found guilty of accepting 17 bribes totaling $235,000. His predecessor Xie Yalong was charged with accepting 12 bribes totaling $273,000.
Xie said he was tortured into confessing to more serious crimes than he had actually committed. The police in Liaoning rejected this allegation and denied employing physical abuse.
Meanwhile, a former national team manager, Wei Shaohui, was also sentenced to 10 and a half years in jail.
Seven other former national team players and officials were also sentenced by courts on Wednesday for taking bribes to fix a domestic game in 2003, bringing to at least 21 the number charged in similar or related cases this year.
Despite the high-profile sentences, the country's official Xinhua news agency said they marked "a comma rather than a full stop in the fight against match-fixing, gambling, bribery and embezzlement."
"It will take a long time to solve the problem because the current system is a hotbed for corruption," Chen Peide, a former provincial sports chief and long-time critic of corruption in football, was quoted as saying.
act/sb (dpa, AFP, AP)