February 15, 2023
BEIJING – Chinese Football Association President Chen Xuyuan is under investigation for suspected violations of discipline and the law, said China’s top anti-graft watchdog on Tuesday.
Chen is being investigated by a disciplinary inspection and supervision team stationed at the General Administration of Sport of China after it was sent there by the Communist Party of China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision. The Hubei provincial commission of supervision is also involved.
The investigation is linked with former Team China head coach Li Tie, who was initially put under investigation by the national disciplinary inspection team and the Hubei supervision commission for suspected serious violations of discipline and the law in November.
In January, Chen Yongliang, the CFA’s executive deputy secretary-general, and Liu Yi, the CFA’s former secretary-general, were both under investigation for the same reason.
No details of those investigations have been released.
The news of Chen’s investigation instantly became the top trending item on Chinese social media. The hashtag “CFA president under investigation” was viewed more than 2 million times in just half an hour on Weibo, with most netizens expressing frustration about the disappointing state of Chinese soccer.
“In less than half a year, the CFA president, the governing body’s secretary-general, and Team China’s former head coach are all under investigation. What actually happened behind Chinese soccer? Let’s wait for the answer,” sports commentator Han Qiaosheng wrote on social media.
Chen, who was president of Shanghai International Port Group, was elected as CFA president in 2019. With the 66-year-old as head of Chinese soccer’s governing body, China’s men’s national squad delivered a series of disappointing performances, and the nation’s soccer leagues’ development has been facing major difficulties.
It was during Chen’s governance and coach Li’s tenure that the men’s national team failed to qualify for the last year’s World Cup in Qatar, despite the association’s considerable budget for foreign-born player naturalization.
On the league side, a number of clubs at all levels, even including giants such as eight-time Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou FC, are facing survival problems, while the overall influence of the nation’s professional leagues is decreasing.