Former China coach Li Tie goes on trial over bribery allegations

Former China coach Li Tie goes on trial over bribery allegations


Li played nearly 100 games for China

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Beijing (AFP) – Former China coach and ex-Everton midfielder Li Tie went on trial Thursday on allegations of bribery, state media said, part of a broader crackdown on corruption in football in the country.

His former boss, the fallen Chinese Football Association chairman Chen Xuyuan, was jailed for life this week for taking bribes worth $11 million.

The Chinese legal system is tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party and courts have a near-100 percent conviction rate in criminal cases.

Local journalists gathered in front of the court in Hubei province where the 46-year-old Li's case will be heard.

Li, who was China coach from January 2020 until December 2021, is accused of giving and taking bribes, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Li, who played in the Premier League 34 times between 2002 and 2004, featured in a documentary aired on CCTV in January about widespread corruption in Chinese football.

CCTV regularly airs confessions by criminal suspects before they have appeared in court, a practice widely condemned by rights groups.

In the programme Li said he had arranged nearly $421,000 in bribes to secure the head coach position, and helped to fix matches when he was a club coach in the Chinese Super League.

"I'm very sorry. I should have kept my head to the ground and followed the right path," said Li. "There were certain things that at the time were common practices in football," he added. Li played nearly 100 games for China.