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Chinese soccer officials sentenced

Published By United Press International
BEIJING, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Two former Chinese soccer officials were sentenced to prison Saturday as part of a wide-ranging bribery scandal, prosecutors said.

The pair were among 39 defendants who were given their punishment in the case, and one attorney said they were lucky they only received prison time.

"The punishment isn't harsh," said Wang Shujing, attorney for defendant Yang Yimin, told China's state-run Xinhua news agency. "Yang took bribes as a government official and the harshest punishment for taking bribes as a public servant could be death penalty."

Yang, the former deputy chief of the Chinese Football Association and the Chinese Football Administrative Center, was sentenced to 10 years for accepting bribes totaling of $200,000.

Zhang Jianqiang, former director of the CFA's referee committee, was given 12 years for pocketing $433,000 on 24 occasions.

Yang and Zhang repeatedly took money in exchange for favorable physical tests for individual players and to help teams on the field. Xinhua said Zhang was convicted of helping Shenhua win the 2003 league championship.
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