Former Everton and Sheffield United footballer 'jailed for life for match-fixing and paying bribes'

23 February 2024, 11:10

Li Tie
Li Tie. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

A former Everton and Sheffield United footballer has been jailed for life in China for match-fixing and bribery.

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The charges against Li, who had a six-year spell in England from 2002-2008, relate to his time as manager of the Chinese national team from 2019-2021.

He was accused of "accepting and offering bribes" by the Chinese public prosecutor as part of a crackdown on football corruption in the country.

Li has now been sentenced to life in prison, after he confessed to paying the equivalent of £330,000 to become the manager of the national team, according to writer Mark Dreyer.

Two senior Chinese officials have also been given long prison sentences, Mr Dreyer reported. No official announcement has been made.

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Li Tie
Li Tie. Picture: Getty

He also admitted being part of match-fixing scandals that helped his sides win promotions while managing Chinese clubs Hebei China Fortuna and Wuhan Zall.

"I'm very sorry. I should have kept my head to the ground and followed the right path. There were certain things that at the time were common practices in football.

"By gaining 'success' through such improper means, it actually made me more and more impatient and eager for quick results.

"In order to achieve good performance, I resorted to influencing referees, bribing opposing players and coaches, sometimes through clubs dealing with other clubs.

Li Tie
Li Tie. Picture: Getty

"This behaviour becomes a habit, and eventually, there is even a slight dependence on these practices."

Li, a midfielder, played for Everton 40 times from 2002-2006. A good first season on loan at Goodison Park earned him a permanent move, but he suffered injury problems that largely kept him on the sidelines for the next three years.

He moved to Sheffield United in 2006, and played once in the League Cup, but was not selected in the league. He left after two seasons, moving back to China.

Li Tie
Li Tie. Picture: Getty

He also played 92 times for the Chinese national team, and ended his playing career in 2011.

Li became a manager in China after he retired, and eventually took over the national team from legendary Italian coach Marcello Lippi in 2019.

The investigation into his corrupt activity in China began in 2022.

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