Shanghai Shenhua to forfeit 2003 league title and points; dozens receive bans as Chinese FA cracks down on match-fixing

Shenhua and Tianjin Teda will both start the 2013 season down six points in the standings, while Dalian Aerbin's newly-signed manager received a five-year ban from the sport
The Chinese Football Assocation (CFA) on Monday evening levelled harsh punishments on several of the country's top-flight clubs in a bombshell announcement all but guaranteed to alter the landscape of the upcoming Chinese Super League (CSL) season.

Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin Teda received the harshest punishments, with both clubs receiving €120,000 fines and six-point deductions from their 2013 CSL campaigns. Fellow CSL club Shangdong Luneng received an equivalent fine, while China League One outfit Yanbian FC were fined €60,000 and docked three points.

Shenhua, who last month were forced to part with high-priced stars Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, were additionally stripped of their 2003 league title which will be declared vacant. They finished ninth in 2012 despite the mid-season arrival of Drogba, who joined Galatasaray in the January transfer window.
While the fines sound bad, they were expected. Xu Hong is out without controlling one game and a side like Aerbin will definitely find a decent replacement. The big impact will come from Shanghai Shenhua losing a valuable six points in a close league; they could well be looking at the wrong end of the table in 2013!

Peter Davis (@peteydavis),
Chinese football expert

"We hope that the clubs will learn from this case and strive to create a fair competition," wrote CFA Disciplinary Committee Director Wang Xia in the announcement detailing the punishments. "We should work together in order to restore the image of Chinese football and promote its healthy development,"

Meanwhile Dalian Aerbin, who recently bought out local rivals Dalian Shide, will have to do without newly-signed manager Xu Hong after he was handed a five-year footballing ban. His recent appointment came following the departure of Serbian Aleksandar Stanojevic, a fan-favourite now in charge of Beijing Guoan.

Former CFA heads Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, both of whom are serving 10.5-year prison sentences, were among 33 others who received life-time bans including four former Chinese internationals. Referee Lu Jun, who officiated in the 2002 World Cup and 2001 Confederations Cup, was among that group.

In a poll by Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, over 79% of respondents claimed that Shenhua and Teda were punished too lightly, drawing comparisons to a similar 2009 decision that saw Chengdu Blades and Guangzhou GPC relegated for match-fixing. Nearly 74% of respondents thought that the CFA failed to punish enough clubs, while just 11% believed that the punishments would have a positive effect.

Match-fixing in football has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks following a Europol announcement that nearly 400 matches played in 15 countries may have been rigged. An Asian betting syndicate is thought to be behind the scheme.