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Didier Drogba's former Chinese club stripped of 2003 title in match-fixing crackdown

updated 8:08 AM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Shanghai Shenhua FC has been stripped of its 2003 Chinese league title and handed a $160,000 for match fixing.
Shanghai Shenhua FC has been stripped of its 2003 Chinese league title and handed a $160,000 for match fixing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Didier Drogba's former club found guilty of match-fixing
  • Shanghai Shenhua stripped of 2003 Chinese title and fined
  • 33 people handed life bans including four former Chinese internationals
  • Punishments follow three-year investigation by Chinese Football Association

(CNN) -- Big-spending Shanghai Shenhua have been stripped of their 2003 league title and handed a $160,000 fine in the latest crackdown by Chinese football authorities against match-fixing .

Shenhua, who achieved worldwide prominence with their audacious signing of Chelsea's Didier Drogba last year, will also start the next Chinese Super League (CSL) with a six-point deduction.

Shenhua were among 12 clubs handed punishments, while 33 people, including disgraced officials Xie Yalong and Nan Yong, received life bans, according to the official Chinese news agency Zinhua.

Former Chinese national team players - Shen Si, Qi Hong, Jiang Jin and Li Ming -- who were jailed for five-and-a-half years last year for taking bribes -- were also banned for life, as was former World Cup referee Lu Jun.

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In 2009 the Chinese Football Association (CFA) launched an investigation into corruption in 2009 in an attempt to clean up their game.

"Acts of corruption violated national laws, and did serious damage to the image of Chinese football," said a statement on the CFA's official website.

Read: How match fixing ruined the beautiful game

Xie and Nan, who were both high-profile former heads of the CFA, were each given jail sentences of 10-and-a-half years as a result of the investigation, ahead of the further football related punishments announced Monday.

Shenhua, who also signed Drogba's former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka, were found guilty of fixing a game against Shanxi Guoli during the 2003 season.

Fellow CSL side Tianjin Teda were also found to have fixed a match in the same season and, like Shenhua, were deducted six points and fined one million yuan ($160,000).

In total, 12 clubs were handed "disciplinary punishments" while former Chinese international Xu Hong, who recently became coach of CSL Dalian Arbin, was among a further 25 people banned from the game for five years.

Allegations of corruption linked to gambling have long damaged the reputation of Chinese football, but the acquisition of Ivory Coast star Drogba, fresh from helping Chelsea to win the 2012 European Champions League, was seen as a major coup.

He was joining Anelka, who signed in January 2012, but both have subsequently left the club, with Drogba joining Turkish champions Galalatasaray on an 18-month deal while Anelka is on loan at Italian giants Juventus.

Read: China's love of gambling affects soccer's fortunes

The punishments announced by the CFA follow the revelations earlier this month of widespread fixing of European football matches.

European law enforcement agency Europol announced on February 4 that 380 games in Europe -- including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games -- have been deemed suspicious.

Prior to the Europol announcement, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told CNN that match-fixing was a "disease" as he responded to lifetime bans handed out in January to 41 South Korean players found guilty of attempting to influence the result of games.

The CFA insisted that their anti-corruption drive has achieved "positive results" and in its statement claimed that "public enthusiasm for football is gradually restored, with the audience and television viewers for the CSL at record highs."

But mired by the controversies, China's national team has been struggling to make an impression and failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after finishing third in a group behind Iraq and Jordan.

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