Former Everton footballer, LI TIE, 'sentenced to life in prison for corruption and match-fixing'

Friday, February 23, 2024
 – Former Everton player, Li Tie has reportedly been sentenced to life in prison in his native China for corruption.

Chinese public prosecutor released a bombshell statement saying he was 'suspected of accepting and offering bribes' amid a huge crackdown on corruption in football.

Li admitted he paid 3 million yuan (£330,000) in bribes to become coach of the national team in a televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV. He also confessed to taking part in a match-fixing scandal to win promotions with his club teams.

Li said: 'I'm very sorry. I should have kept my head to the ground and followed the right path. There were certain things that at the time were common practices in football.'

China-based reporter and author Mark Dreyer said Li has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the scandal.

The former head of the Chinese Football Association, Chen Xuyuan, has been given a 15-year sentence for bribery, Dreyer said.

Li admitted to successfully fixing matches when coach of Hebei China Fortune and Wuhan Zall. The latter won promotion from China League One as champions in 2018.

He added in his televised statement: 'By gaining 'success' through such improper means, it actually made me more and more impatient and eager for quick results.

'In order to achieve good performance, I resorted to influencing referees, bribing opposing players and coaches, sometimes through clubs dealing with other clubs.

'This behaviour becomes a habit, and eventually, there is even a slight dependence on these practices.'

Li was regarded as one of the most talented Chinese players of his generation when he signed for Everton in August 2002.

Li played 33 matches for Everton while on loan from Chinese club Liaoning during the 2002-03 season and played seven games the following season after signing permanently.

The defensive midfielder had a stint with Sheffield United but suffered injury problems after breaking his leg on international duty in February 2004.

He was released by Everton in 2006 and joined Sheffield United, but he played only once for the Blades because of lingering injury issues.

Li, who played 92 times for China between 1995 and 2007, moved to Chengdu Blades, who were affiliated to Sheffield United in 2008, and later returned to hometown club Liaoning.

After coaching at club level, he acted as caretaker coach of the China national team after Marcello Lippi resigned in 2019 and was then appointed permanently.

In November 2022, it was initially announced Li had been placed under investigation for 'serious violation of laws' by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the anti-corruption agency the National Supervisory Commission.

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