Three soccer referees, including the "golden whistler" Lu Jun who was referee during the 2002 World Cup, have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes amid an investigation into corruption and gambling in Chinese soccer.
Chinese authorities have arrested three soccer referees, including Lu Jun who is one of the country’s leading referees and officiated two matches at the 2002 World Cup, for allegedly accepting bribes, according to the People’s Daily Online. Zhou Weixin and Huang Junjie were also among those who were arrested.
The nation’s police announced that they have solid evidence that the officials were involved in match fixing and went as far as asking for benefits from soccer clubs, which was verified by the President of China’s Soccer Association, Wei Di, reports Reuters.
“We don't know what sentences they will get But we can see these referees must have contributed to the problem of match fixing and manipulation. I can only confirm that Lu Jun, Zhou Weixin and Huang Junjie have been arrested, but the police wouldn't tell me the details,” said Di.
The newly launched investigation, which is inspecting the world of corruption and gambling in soccer, has already charged dozens of players and officials, however, it is unknown the amount of money that was involved.
Al Jazeera reports that if Jun is found guilty for accepting bribes as a public servant then he could face the death penalty. The average sentence for state servants who are found guilty for taking bribes of more than $14,705 is between ten years and death.
Jun retired in 2005 after officiating more than 200 Chinese league matches and several Asian Football Confederation games.
Di announced that the recent allegations have forced league organizers to revise its system of selecting referees, while adopting new measures to improve the organization’s management. The new season, which begins later this month, will have at least 20 per cent new referees and a complete list of referees will be published prior to the start of the new season, reports China Daily.