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China's football boss vows to close league if gambling persists|
BEIJING (AFP) - China's top football official has vowed to shut down the domestic Super League if rampant match fixing, gambling and bribery continues.
"If order cannot be maintained, then we will stop play," head of the China Football Association, Xie Yalong, was quoted by Titan Sports as saying.
"We cannot play fixed matches. Fixing matches is like producing a fake product, it is servicing cheats," he told the Chinese sports newspaper.
"We cannot be gambling on matches. Gambling is the biggest cancer facing Chinese football. Because of gambling on matches, there is the buying off of referees and the buying off of players."
Xie was speaking at a meeting of coaches in southern Guangdong province ahead of the March opening of the league's third season.
The premier season of the league nearly collapsed after a majority of clubs threatened to boycott matches over massive corruption in the league and the leagues failure to share advertising revenues.
The controversy led to fans refusing to attend matches and sponsors pulling out of deals during the second campaign.
"The Super League is a complete product, one fake club makes the whole fake, one rat turd can ruin the whole soup," Xie said.
"We must look for the enemy in every bush because even if we want to play true football, there will be people who are saying it is fake.
"Otherwise the league will go bankrupt, the market will disappear and the fans will go away."
Xie urged clubs to help s$$p out match fixing, gambling and bribery, asking coaches and players to report to him if they suspected any wrongdoing, and he pledged to keep such reports confidential.
Xie's tirade came after FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter last month urged China to do more to curb gambling, while admitting that it would be difficult to wipe out the scourge.
"Football is a game and in a game there is gambling and gambling is naturally cheating but this is a matter for national associations," Blatter said at a meeting in Tokyo.
"They have to control that but it is difficult the bigger an association is. Can you imagine it in China with 1.3 billion people."