Chinese Referee Admits to Fixing Manchester United Friendly

December 21, 2011

A Chinese referee, considered one of China’s best, has admitted in court to taking bribes to fix local and international matches, including making sure a local team won the toss in a friendly involving Manchester United, state media has reported.

The case of Huang Junjie, a referee for more than 20 years who has been nominated as one of the country’s best, is one of a number of hearings under way following a probe into Chinese football corruption.

He accepted $245,000 of bribes to fix two international friendlies and taking 20 bribes from six Chinese clubs between 2005 and 2009, Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

The international matches included a 2007 exhibition match between the English Premier League’s Manchester United and China’s Shenzhen. Huang took 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($13,000) in bribes to let Shenzhen win the coin toss, Xinhua said. Manchester United went on to win the game 6-0.

The other international match was a 2009 fixture between Shanghai Shenhua and Australian club Sydney, which the Chinese club won 2-1.

“At no stage during the trip or the match was there anything that would have alerted Sydney FC to the situation that has been raised today,” the club said in a statement on Wednesday.

Coach Vitezslav Lavicka said he remembered nothing suspicious about the match.

“I remember that game … but there’s no point to give it any credit, it’s a very strange situation,” he said. “I don’t remember anything out of ordinary … that’s in the past now.”

Huang, who was nominated as China’s referee of the year in 2009, also took bribes from his colleague, referee Zhou Weixin, to sway results, Xinhua said. Zhou is charged with corruption and bribing civil servants.

Their trials in northeast China are part of a crackdown on Chinese football corruption that has implicated players and top officials including the former head of the Chinese Football Association.