Xie Yalong, ex-chief of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), went on trial in the northeast city of Dandong for allegedly receiving bribes, state media said, becoming the highest-ranking former soccer official to face justice.
His successor as China’s soccer boss, Nan Yong, was to go on trial a day later in a court in the city of Tieling, also for accepting bribes. Both cities are in Liaoning province.
But Xie told the court he was tortured with electric shocks, beaten, and doused with water while being interrogated during investigations, state media reports said.
The People’s Daily quoted Xie’s lawyer Jin Xiaoguang as saying his defendant feared for his life during the interrogation and confessed to crimes he did not commit “because he wanted to stay alive”.
The popular Chinese web portal QQ.com reported Xie was beaten so hard in the head his ears bled.
Dozens of CFA and club officials, referees, and players have been ensnared for their roles in a match-fixing and gambling scandal exposed two years ago, which has rocked Chinese football by lifting the lid on deep-rooted corruption.
The revelations have combined with poor play by China’s national squad to repel increasingly indifferent Chinese fans, threatening the future of the world’s most popular game in the world’s most populous country.
Xie, 56, was charged with 12 counts of accepting bribes, which totaled more than 1.7 million yuan (B8.5 million or US$273,000), news agency Xinhua said.