Ex-China chief to be tried on bribery charges

BEIJING - Chinese police have received approval from state prosecutors to arrest the former head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) Nan Yong on bribery charges, state media reported on Monday.

The move, which follows his questioning in January and formal detention last month, means Nan is now certain to undergo criminal trial on the charges, which arise from an investigation into match-fixing in Chinese football.

Nan's former deputy Yang Yimin and the former director of the CFA's referees' committee Zhang Jianqiang will face similar charges, the Xinhua news agency report said.

The three men are among more than 20 officials arrested or detained in the last three months on suspicion of match-fixing, bribery and gambling.

Two top-flight clubs, Guangzhou and Chengdu, have already been relegated for their involvement in the scandal while a second division club, Qingdao, have been banished from professional football altogether.

If found guilty, the officials face a sentence ranging from an administrative sanction to the death penalty, depending on the amount of money involved.

The only referee prosecuted in China's earlier, "black whistles" bribery scandal, Gong Jianping, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 after admitting to match-fixing.

He died 18 months later.