Beijing: Top football referees in China have been convicted for accepting bribes to fix football matches and indulging in various forms of corruption.
China`s top football referee Lu Jun has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail for accepting bribes to fix matches.
Once dubbed as ``Golden Whistle`` of China, Lu Jun officiated at the World Cup. The Asian Football Confederation also twice named him Referee of the Year.
He was one of the nine people found guilty of charges related to corruption inside Chinese football. Lu Jun was the first Chinese referee to take charge of a World Cup match, at the 2002 event hosted by Japan and South Korea.
He confessed accepting bribes worth more than 128,000 dollars to fix the results of seven league football games, some in 2003.
There were other referees too who have been convicted for taking bribes to fix the games.
Former soccer referee Huang Junjie was sentenced to seven years in prison and confiscation of his personal property worth 200,000 RMB (about 31,760 U.S. dollars).
Huang used to be one of the best-known soccer referees in China. He had a more than 20-year-long career and was certified as an international level referee in 1998.
In another such case, a northeast Chinese court sentenced former soccer referee Zhou Weixin to three years and six months in prison for accepting bribes as non-state staff.
Similarly, northeast Chinese court sentenced former CFA Super League Company manager Lu Feng to six and a half years in prison for corruption. Corruption has wrecked the beautiful game here for some years, leading many Chinese fans to support European teams instead. In China, corrupt referees are notoriously known as ``black whistles``.