Chinese ref took bribes to fix United friendly

A former referee has admitted taking bribes to fix matches in China, including a friendly involving Manchester United in 2007, according to a state media report.

Standing trial in north-eastern Liaoning province, Huang Junjie confessed on Tuesday that he had received bribes of nearly 1.6 million yuan ($252,100) between 2005 and 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The bribes were from six domestic clubs and involved two international matches, a friendly between Manchester United and Shenzhen FC which the English side won 6-0 and another between Sydney FC and Shanghai Shenhua in 2009, Xinhua said.

Huang was asked to sway results in the two international matches by another referee, Zhou Weixin, who also faces charges of corruption and bribing civil servants.

The reports gave no details on what Huang and Zhou allegedly did to fix the outcome of the games.

Huang and Zhou are not unique in China, where football has been dogged by crowd violence, graft and match-fixing scandals.

China began trials on Monday for some 60 national players, referees, coaches and other officials accused of involvement in match-fixing and gambling scandals.

Former heads of China's football programme, Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, and 2002 World Cup match official Lu Jun are among those facing charges.