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Feb 8, 2010

Chinese state TV pulls coverage of Japan clash

China's all-powerful state sports channel cancelled the broadcast of the national team's match against Japan at the weekend as Chinese soccer continued to reel from the ongoing match-fixing scandal. The CCTV 5 channel, which owns 85% of China's sports television market, had bought the broadcasting rights to the East Asian Championship tie and had scheduled it for a live broadcast from Tokyo on Saturday evening, local media said.

When fans tuned in for the clash with China's fiercest rivals, however, they were presented instead with a local version of the long-running European gameshow Jeux Sans Frontier, "Inter-Cities".

In Sunday's sports news bulletins, CCTV-5 did not mention the 0-0 result, or even that the match itself had taken place, local newspapers reported.

CCTV-5 officials declined to comment to local media on the reasons for dropping the match and were not available for comment on Monday. China play South Korea on Wednesday and Hong Kong on Sunday but neither match has been scheduled to appear on the channel.

Chinese football was previously suspended from CCTV after a massive fight between Beijing and Tianjin players on the pitch during a Chinese Super League (CSL) match in 2008.

The channel also cancelled their wildly popular broadcast of North America's National Basketball Association (NBA) games during national mourning days for the 80,000 victims of the Sichuan earthquake earlier that year.

"We did show one game but then we were informed not to continue," Jiang Heping, director of the state TV sports channel, said at the time.

Chinese football is currently in state of disgrace after the arrest of several top soccer officials in the ongoing police probe of match-fixing. The former head of Chinese Football Association (CFA), Nan Yong, and more than 20 other officials, players and club managers have been arrested in the last three months on suspicion of match-fixing or corruption.

The 0-0 draw extended China's 12-year run without a victory against their East Asian neighbours. Nan's successor, Wei Di, told the Modern Express newspaper: "I want the national team to play well whether on the CCTV or not."

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