Wei Di: Chinese officials deserve Iran snub

BEIJING - Iran's demand for a neutral referee for their friendly against China this week is disrespectful but local match officials only have themselves to blame, according to China's football chief Wei Di.

Three top Chinese referees were arrested for their involvement in a major matchfixing scandal earlier this year and Wei said he thought that was behind Iran's request for a non-Chinese to officiate the match in Zhengzhou on Friday.

"It is not too odd in principle, but objectively it shows their lack of respect for Chinese referees," Wei told a training camp for referees in Hebei on Wednesday in speech reported by the Xinhua news agency.

Wei was brought in to clean up Chinese football after his predecessor Nan Yong and a strong of other top Chinese Football Association (CFA) officials were arrested for corruption.

One of the referees arrested in March was 2002 World Cup official Lu Jun, who had been known as the "golden whistle" in contrast to the corrupt "black whistles" who had long been suspected of fixing matches over the last decade.

Wei conceded that many guilty referees had fixed matches at the behest of CFA officials and so earned the nickname "official whistles" but said that must now stop if they were to gain credibility with fans and players.

"The CFA must start within itself to eliminate the 'official whistle'," he said. "And the referees must resist the pressure of 'official whistle'. A referee must immediately report to the CFA as soon as any CFA official makes such request."

Wei, who has declined Iran's request, then called on domestic referees to deliberately make calls against Chinese players in matches against other countries.

"In international games, the Chinese referees should be more strict to China, which could improve the team's mentality in a negative situations," he said.

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