Spain and China affected by serious suspicions of corruption
Every day, the correspondents’ club describes how the same current affairs are presented in two countries.
Javier Tebas, the president of the Professional Football League (La Liga), estimates on Monday March 13 that Spanish football is currently experiencing the worst moment in its history due to the referee corruption case involving FC Barcelona. It is neither the first club nor the first country to deal with suspicions of embezzlement. From the suspicion weighs on the conditions for the assignment of the World Cup to Qatar in 2022, while France lived with the OM/VA affair in 1993, the most sensational story of cheating in its history. Even China is not spared. While President Xi Jimping dreams of making his country a football superpower, scandals continue.
In Spain, FC Barcelona in the eye of the storm
FC Barcelona is at the center of a huge scandal. Lionel Messi’s former club is accused of bribing the vice president of the Spanish arbitration body between 2001 and 2018. José Maria Negreira is his name, he received more than seven million euros through a consultancy firm of which he was the boss. Barça denies any wrongdoing and explains that this representative of the refereeing body has been paid to advise the club on refereeing matters through reports. Except these are very succinct and full of spelling errors. For justice, the millions of euros could have been used to bribe the referees.
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The club and two of its former presidents are accused of corruption, breach of trust and forgery. In the worst case, FC Barcelona risks dissolution. This is not the most likely and we are rather talking about a record economic penalty. Indicted former presidents can be sentenced to prison. In sporting terms, facts are prescribed in La Liga. The club will not be relegated but UEFA and FIFA can sanction Barça and deprive them of European competition.
In China, the president of the federation is under investigation
Chen Xuyuan, president of the China Football Association, is a 66-year-old former dock worker. The charge is a violation of discipline and the law. A rather vague formulation, but which in China generally refers to corruption. President Xi Jinping launched a massive anti-corruption campaign 10 years ago and football is no exception. The federation boss is therefore the subject of an investigation. This is the second scandal to hit the top echelons of Chinese football in just a few months. Already last November the authorities had launched an investigation against the former national coach Li Tie, also accused of violating the law. The case caused a stir, as Li Tie is one of the most famous football players in China. he played for Everton in the English Premier League between 2002 and 2006. He took charge of the China national team in 2020, before leaving his post a year later due to poor results. China failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
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Before that, there were other cases that made football splash in China. Stories of match fixing, bribes and prohibited gambling. When he arrived in 2019, the federation president had promised to restore order, but in the end he was the one who ended up falling.