According to a statement made on Saturday by the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption organization, one of China’s top sports leaders is under investigation on suspicion of wrongdoing.
Du Zhaocai, the deputy chairman of China’s General Administration of Sport, is being investigated for alleged breaches of discipline and law, which is a code word for corruption, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
There were no more case specifics provided in the statement.
The party’s decision to conduct a “serious investigation” into the Du Zhaocai case and its attempts to “seriously investigate corruption issues” in the sport were both fully backed by the sports administrator, according to a statement that was subsequently released.
Li Tie, the former coach of the men’s national team and a former English Premier League player, is among the prominent figures in Chinese football who have already been the subject of an extensive inquiry into the sport.
Since 2019, Du, 63, has served as the deputy chairman of the government organization in charge of overseeing Chinese sport. He has been a sports and football administrator for more than 30 years.
He has held prior positions as council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations, vice-president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, and vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation.
He was elected to the Fifa Council in 2019 and previously held the position of vice-president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
After a string of issues on and off the field, his failure to win re-election to the Fifa Council at a vote at the Asian Football Confederation Congress in Bahrain in February was another blow to Chinese football’s reputation.
In addition to significant investment in the sport, the recent underperformance of the men’s national team and the closure of numerous elite clubs due to financial issues have caused widespread discontent among football fans and the general public and stoked concerns about corruption in the football industry.
A fresh round of inspections was started on Monday by China’s main anti-corruption agency, signalling more regulatory change. The campaign, according to the statement, would also involve a special examination of the General Administration of Sport.
Numerous sports-related authorities have been removed from office since the end of last year. Eight CFA officials, both past and present, are being looked into.
These include Li, who resigned as manager of the national team in 2021, and Chen Xuyuan, the chairman of the CFA, both of whom were put under investigation in February and December, respectively.
Wang Xiaoping, the chairman of the CFA’s disciplinary committee, and Huang Song, the director of its competition division, are among the other officials who are being looked at.
The role of sports administration in China’s soft power initiatives has grown in importance.
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the nation to increase its worldwide athletic competitiveness and quicken the pace of becoming a sporting superpower two months after China hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The General Administration of Sport of China, which has duties that go beyond developing athletes, supervises and controls all sporting events in China.
It also played a significant part in organizing important international events, including as the Winter Olympics in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, as well as promoting sports diplomacy as a way to boost China’s worldwide standing and foster better ties with other nations.