In the past six months, Chinese football has set off a wave of anti-corruption actions. (China News Agency profile photo)
Chinese football has made waves again. The current large-scale arrest involving gambling involves a number of athletes from many Chinese Super League and Chinese League One clubs, and even retired athletes and football commentators.
After the fall of Chen Jiayuan, chairman of the Chinese Football Association and deputy party secretary, and Li Tie, former head coach of the Chinese men's national football team, the anti-corruption campaign in Chinese football continues. On March 17, a number of Chinese Super League (Chinese Football Association Super League) and China League One (Chinese Football Association League A) players were taken away by police, this time, involving illegal gambling and match-fixing.
The large-scale operation of this task force originated from the clues obtained by the police after seizing the gambling team, and was not related to the previous Li Tie task force.
It is reported that the professional players taken away include both active and retired players, and there are many former members of the national team.
The anti-corruption actions that have swept through Chinese football in the past six months have shown a two-pronged trend: on the one hand, the discipline inspection and supervision system investigates and deals with the corruption of Li Tie, Liu Yi and Chen Jiayuan in industry management; On the other hand, the public security system uses the captured gambling bankers as clues to break through and investigate and detect gambling and match-fixing cases.
Kick-fixing can earn 400,000 a game
After the Spring Festival, an extramarital affair scandal involving Shandong Taishan Football Club player Wu Xinghan attracted attention.
Screenshots of suspected WeChat conversations between Wu Xinghan and a woman were exposed, and Wu Xinghan said in the conversation: "Now the Chinese Super League is all match-fixing", "one ball can earn 300,000 to 400,000 (RMB, the same below)" and "Earn money quickly". As soon as the screenshot of the conversation was exposed, the taste of this peachy scandal changed instantly.
It is reported that the woman also obtained evidence of some athletes playing match-fixing and gambling, and uniformly put it in the reporting materials and submitted it to the relevant departments.
In August last year, the Chinese Football Association and the Chinese Football Federation prepared to hold a special work meeting on safeguarding Psiphon discipline and combating ugly phenomena in football by convening the heads of clubs of the Chinese Super League, China League A and China B League through online means. At the meeting, the Chinese Football Association said that the association had received reports about some clubs participating in gambling, and the association set up a special working group to investigate with the public security department.
China Newsweek reported that the large-scale arrest involving gambling involved a number of athletes from several Chinese Super League and Chinese League One clubs, and even retired athletes and football commentators.
Qi Hong (left) and Shensi (right) participate in amateur soccer games after being released from prison. (Taken from China News Weekly/Visual China Photo)
Industry chain midfielder and bookmaker
Relevant football practitioners said that unlike general gambling, professional players participate in gambling with a high degree of concealment, and it is often difficult to determine their participation in gambling based on only a few game of play, and the action of the public security organ also proves this, and the relevant participants are finally dealt with by providing evidence and clues by the arrested bookmaker.
It is reported that a certain athlete of Shandong Taishan Football Club not only participates in gambling himself, but also is the organizer of gambling, directly participating in the division of labor and money in gambling.
After a large number of players were taken away by the public security organs for investigation, some football media people said that some players acted as middlemen in the gambling industry chain, and they could manipulate the game without having to appear.
"Usually arrange the score of a game, the key is to communicate well between the goalkeeper and the central defender, which is why many goalkeepers and central defenders are currently being investigated, why are the playmakers a few well-known midfielders? Because they play the role of an intermediary inside, directly communicating with the dealer (or they are the bankers), and then going to the team to persuade their teammates to cooperate."
A former Chinese Super League football club starting goalkeeper revealed, "Generally speaking, betting on football will not involve only one player, because one person has too little impact on the game, and the bookmaker will prefer to choose players from the 'central axis' of the lineup." "Goalkeepers, centre-backs, midfielders and strikers will all be the targets of the bookmaker's choice, and it is impossible to manipulate the outcome of the game by one player, even the goalkeeper cannot manipulate the game alone."
An extramarital affair scandal involving footballer Wu Xinghan (left) unexpectedly uncovered a gambling scandal in Chinese football. (Xinhua News Agency profile photo)
It is difficult to prove who the player is "abnormal" to judge
"Gambling, not suddenly appeared in the past two years, but always existed in the process of professional leagues, as an athlete, long-term training with teammates, for each teammate's ability, technical characteristics, playing style has a clearer and deeper understanding, who gambles, teammates on the field can see at a glance." The player said.
Professional players can see not only the "abnormality" of their teammates' performance, but also the "abnormality" of their opponents.
"Some athletes, in my opinion, are high-level athletes in China, but they have some very low-level mistakes on the court, and the reason why I use "mistake" instead of "mistake" to describe it is because in the eyes of professional athletes, it is too outrageous."
"But what if you see it?" How do you report it if you don't know who is involved? Who to sue? How do you get the evidence?" The player said.
There is a view that the large-scale participation of Chinese professional football players in gambling is related to the fact that after the "annealing" of Jin Yuan football (using money to recruit players), the salary and treatment are not guaranteed.
However, it is understood that most of the clubs where the public security organs took away this time have not had large-scale wage arrears, and some clubs have even publicly stated that they never owe players salaries.
Take former national football coach Li Tie as an example, whether he was a head coach in Hebei or Wuhan, his salary was quite generous, and after serving as the national team manager, his annual salary exceeded 3 million yuan, but it still did not affect his involvement in gambling.
It can be seen that although there are many problems with "Golden Dollar Football", it is not necessarily an incentive for gambling, and "high salary and maintenance" is not worth mentioning in the face of gambling.
Some players revealed that goalkeepers and central defenders often choose targets for the banker. The picture shows former international player Zhang Lu being taken away by the public security organs for investigation.
Industry: "Grab the limelight and pass it"
After the public security organ's gambling arrest appeared, many fans said on social media that they had caught it well. However, by combing through the cases involving fake gambling in Chinese football over the years, the problem of Chinese football is not a problem of not grasping hard enough and thoroughly, but a problem that is not lasting enough.
As early as more than a decade ago, Chinese football experienced an anti-gambling anti-black storm, picking up a number of fake gambling combined matches, hundreds of football industry insiders were implicated, and finally dozens of people sentenced by the court covered all aspects of the football field, including officials of the football association, investors, managers, coaches of clubs, referees and players, and players' agents.
In that storm, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin, and Li Ming (Xiao) in the first instance, Shensi was sentenced to 6 years in prison, and the other three were sentenced to 5 years and 6 months in prison. All four were fined 500,000 yuan and confiscated 8 million yuan of illegal gains.
At that time, the four people committed the crime of "bribery of non-state employees", involving the match between Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin TEDA in the final round of the 2003 A-League season. According to the prosecutor, Zhang Yifeng, the general manager of TEDA at the time, bought the four people through an intermediary with a total of 8 million yuan in bribes and demanded that the four people release water during the competition.
In February 2013, the Disciplinary Committee of the Chinese Football Association imposed the following punishment: Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin, and Li Ming were banned from any football-related activities for life.
China Newsweek learned that after the storm, many clubs used dehumanizing methods such as confiscating mobile phones and laptops to try to avoid violations of law and discipline by reducing the contact between players and the outside world. However, such a management method does not fundamentally solve the problem, and also intensifies the conflict between athletes and clubs in a short period of time.
To this day, some Chinese professional football club administrators still say that it is unrealistic to completely eliminate the occurrence of gambling only through the supervision of club management and the disciplinary committee of the football association.
In the eyes of many people in the football industry, gambling with its high concealment characteristics is not easy in obtaining evidence. Only if the public security organs, football associations, and clubs can coordinate and cooperate with a high degree of uniformity, and set up an operable trigger mechanism according to the characteristics of gambling, perhaps the effect can be truly seen.
In 2011, Wei Di, then director of the Football Sports Management Center and party secretary of the State General Administration of Sports, proposed the idea of setting up a regulatory committee to combat fake gambling.
"For the Chinese Football Association, it is difficult to grasp the evidence of gambling and match-fixing, and even the public security department is very difficult to find evidence. The Supervisory Committee does not have to be bothered by the evidence, as long as it jointly determines that the competition is an abnormal match, it can impose penalties."
Unfortunately, more than a decade later, people still haven't been able to see the establishment of the regulatory committee that Wadi said, but the "fake gambling black" he called has really come again.
Compared with more than a decade ago, the intensity of the crackdown on gambling match-fixing in Chinese football this time can be described as unprecedented, but I am afraid that the intensity has come up, and I will catch a wave; The limelight has passed, and it has revived.