CFA president under investigation

The scandal at the Chinese Football Association took claimed another victim today when CFA President Chen Xuyuan was placed under investigation.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP



The expanding scandal engulfing the Chinese Football Association (CFA) took an ugly turn as CFA President CHEN Xuyuan was placed under investigation Tuesday.

China's General Administration of Sports said Chen was subject to an internal investigation regarding serious violations of discipline and law, without revealing any details.

Chen, 66, started working in 1973 as a stevedore in Shanghai and climbed all the way up to be the president of Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) in 2011.

In 2014, SIPG bought Shanghai East Asia FC for 200 million yuan and changed its name to Shanghai SIPG FC. After spending 7 billion yuan to buy managers and players, SIPG FC won the Chinese Super League championship in 2018.

Chen was appointed as the president of CFA the next year. During his time in office, China introduced a series of new regulations including a salary cap and a bonus cap in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and lower professional leagues, a move to eliminate big transfer fees and player salaries.

Chen also rolled out a series of policies to crack down on extravagance and waste of football clubs and footballers. He was behind the naturalization scheme that introduced players born overseas to represent the China national team. 

But CSL quickly deteriorated. After three years of the pandemic, many clubs have no money to pay salaries, and some teams - including the CSL championship winner Jiangsu FC - dissolved.

Meanwhile, property developer China Fortune Land said on the same day that co-president MENG Jing had been detained.

Though neither the authorities nor the Beijing-based property developer offered any details, Meng’s case is likely connected to that of Li Tie’s.

Li, a former national team coach and celebrated midfielder, was put under investigation in November last year. Meng was president of China Fortune Land FC – now Hebei FC, and Li was manager of the club from 2015 to 2016.

Since Li, a number of senior CFA officials have found themselves under investigation including former secretary-general of the CFA LIU Yi, and executive deputy secretary-general CHEN Yongliang.

China Fortune Land did exceptionally well from 2014 to 2018. Annual sales climbed from 50 billion yuan (US$7 billion) to 160 billion yuan. China Fortune Land FC was promoted to China Super League in 2017 and came fourth that season.

China Fortune Land began defaulting on loans in early 2021. Its businesses – urban planning and property construction – were brought to a halt. The company has been busy disposing of assets since. The football team took the company’s name out.