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FIFA scandal a warning for Chinese soccer reform

By Xinhua 29 May 2015

FIFA official were arrested for alleged corruption in the recent turmoil rocking the soccer world. Could this be a lesson for China to learn during its soccer reform?

The answer was a Yes from former vice president Wei Jizhong of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

"Soccer has been over commercialized. With gambling and manipulation of intermediate agents involved, the whole business is growing out of control," Wei, 79 told Xinhua on Thursday. "Unscrupulous means can be accepted if it can reach an end."

"China really need to be aware of these risks during its soccer reform," he added.

Seven FIFA senior officials, including FIFA vice president Jeffery Webb, were arrested Wednesday in Zurich and pending extradition due to United States authorities suspecting them of having received bribes.

A further seven were also charged by US authorities with allegations of corruption including fraud, bribery and money laundering.

The bribery suspects, representatives of sports media and sports promotion firms, are alleged to have been involved in schemes to make payments to the soccer functionaries - delegates of FIFA and other functionaries of FIFA sub-organizations - totaling more than 100 million US dollars.

The arrests made just two days before the congress of world soccer's governing body FIFA, during which FIFA president Sepp Blatter will run for his fifth term, in which Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan is his only challenger.

Blatter held an emergency meeting Thursday, making his first public appearance since Wednesday's dramatic events. He said there was no room "for corruption of any kind".

"The events of (Wednesday) have cast a long shadow over football and this Congress," said the 79-year-old Swiss.

Although president of the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Michel Platini Thursday asked Blatter to resign and the election to be postponed, Blatter refused his request.

Platini believes a vast majority of European football associations will vote in favor of the Swiss head's only opposition candidate Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan on Friday, and that he will do everything he can do convince more to follow suit.

He also called on non-European football associations to vote for the young Jordanian.

However, both the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have voiced their continued support for Blatter and have called for the vote to go on as planned, according to reports.

Swiss authorities have begun criminal investigation into awarding of World Cups of 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

Both countries have denied any suggestion of wrongdoing over their bids to host one of the world's top sporting events, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said this "is yet another blatant attempt to extend its jurisdiction to other states."

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