As part of an ongoing probe into connections between football match fixing and internet betting in China, three former football officials have been placed under arrest, including a man who was once the head of the national association for the sport.
Xie Yalong, who served as chief of the Chinese Football Association chief between 2005 and 2009, was taken into custody last week for questioning. On his appointment, Xie was tasked with cleaning up the public image of Chinese football and cleaning up the national league, but he failed to fulfill this goal. His successor Nan Yong was given the same task, but after just one year he too was arrested on bribe-taking and match-fixing charges.
Nan has yet to be tried, but sources say Xie is to be interrogated regarding his ties with Nan. China’s national football leagues have been soiled by corruption for many years, and attempts to clean up the sport have largely failed. Match fixing, crooked referees, and illicit sports betting are common place in the nation’s favorite sport.
In spite of the game’s tarnished image, sports betting in China remains extremely popular, with 90% of all sports wagers being placed on football matches. The China Sports Lottery is the only legal form of sports betting in the country. The lottery is quite popular, raking in huge annual profits, it is still a lottery, and it operates very different from proper sports betting.
Because Chinese gambling laws do not permit local gambling groups to offer fixed odds betting, most punters place bets either with underground bookmakers or with online sportsbooks in China, which are in fact licensed and operated out of other countries.