A Chinese court Thursday sentenced four top football referees to up to seven years in prison after convicting them of corruption and match fixing, reports Sky News.
The court in the north-eastern province of Liaoning found the four former referees, including one who had officiated at a World Cup, guilty of “taking bribes, gambling on or fixing matches,” the government website China.org.cn reported.
The court sentenced Lu Jun to five-and-a-half years in prison for accepting bribes. Lu officiated at the World Cup finals in 2002 and was twice named the Asian Football Confederation’s referee of the year.
Lu confessed to receiving $128,000 for helping to fix seven Chinese league games involving four teams, China.org and other state media said.
Former referee, Huang Junjie was sentenced to seven years in prison for fixing several matches from 2005 to 2009, including two friendly games pitting Chinese teams against English giants Manchester United and Australia’s Sydney FC.
Wan Daxue and Zhou Weixin were jailed for six years and three and a half years, respectively.
Five football officials were also sentenced on Thursday. Lu Feng, the former manager of the Chinese Football Association’s Super League Company, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for taking bribes.
Several other top football officials were scheduled to be tried next month, reports said.
Dozens of other former players, coaches and officials also face trial or have already been tried for match fixing and corruption.