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China fines club, issues match-fixing bans

BEIJING -- Shanghai Shenhau has been stripped of its 2003 league title and fined $160,000 as part of a new round of sanctions aimed at rooting out match fixing in the Chinese Super League.

The Chinese Football Association also banned 33 officials and players for life at the conclusion of a three-year investigation into corruption in the CSL, the Xinhua News Agency and other state media reported Tuesday.

Among those banned were former association chiefs Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, who were sentenced last year to 10½ years in prison each.

Shenhua was also docked six points for the coming season as part of its punishment for fixing the result of a game against Shanxi Guoli on its way to the 2003 title. Another 11 clubs were fined up to $160,000 and docked from three to six points for bribery and match fixing.

Messages were left seeking comment from Shenhua spokesman Ma Yue, and it was not clear if the club would appeal its punishment.

Also handed lifetime bans were former deputy association head Yang Yimin, 2002 World Cup referee Lu Jun and four former Chinese internationals -- Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming -- all of whom were earlier sentenced to up to six years jail for bribe taking. Violations cited by the CFA included match fixing, bribe taking and receiving, and gambling -- some of them dating back a decade or more, Xinhua said.

Soccer-mad China has made some progress in reining in rampant corruption that many blame in part for the national team's poor international results. Last year's sentences were seen as a warning that the legal system was serious about the issue, and fans have largely returned to stadiums to cheer on their favorites in the 16-team CSL.

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