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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Penalties handed out on Monday by China's top football body to individuals and clubs involved in the country's largest match-fixing scandal "were slammed as inadequate by commentators," according to Tang Zhe of the CHINA DAILY. After a three-year investigation, the Chinese FA issued lifetime bans for 33 people, "including some previously jailed for involvement in match-fixing." The harshest penalty imposed on clubs "was handed out to Shanghai Shenhua." The club was fined 1M yuan ($158,000), stripped of its '03 title and also had six points deducted from next season's campaign. Fellow top-division side Tianjin Teda was also fined 1M yuan and given a six-point deduction next season for fixing a '03 league game. However, these penalties "were criticized as being too soft and the CFA was accused of double standards." Guangzhou newspaper News Express football journalist Liu Yong said, "The punishment is not fair to the former Guangzhou team and Chengdu Sheffield United. When they were found guilty of match-fixing, three years ago, they were relegated." Xinhua News Agency Sports Head Xu Jiren said: "I personally think the punishment is not enough. It is regretful that no clubs were relegated this time" (CHINA DAILY, 2/19).

GETTING OFF EASY: The AFP reported China's Titan Media VP Yan Qiang said that the punishments handed down were not enough. Qiang: "These are not really serious punishments. I do not think this is enough to set an extreme example to warn off future offenders. Where there is profit, there will be more people trying to get into it with illegal ways, so it will be an ongoing fight." Social media users "blamed the authorities themselves for the scandals." One post on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, said, "To see where the environment for this corruption was bred, one need look no further than the original culprit -- the CFA" (AFP, 2/19).

Indonesia's rival football associations "have agreed to resolve their nearly two-year-old dispute and find a way to merge" according to the AP. The deal was signed by the FIFA-sanctioned All-Indonesia FA and the "breakaway Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee after meeting with Youth and Sports Minister Roy Suryo." Suryo said late Monday that "under the truce, the group will hold a meeting on March 17, three days before a deadline set by" FIFA (AP, 2/19). REUTERS reported the governing body has "long threatened Indonesia with punishments and bans if the row was not resolved but time and time again, deadlines have been extended" (REUTERS, 2/19).

Scottish Premier League Celtic Manager Neil Lennon insists he will not be "fobbed off by UEFA and will enlist the help" of the Scottish FA to fight his case against the Juventus grapplers, according to Craig Swan of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Lennon is "determined to get a response" from European football chiefs ahead of the second-leg tie against the Italians. UEFA is set to "dismiss any Celtic complaints" about Spanish referee Alberto Mallenco’s refusal to punish Juventus players for shirt pulling during last week’s first leg. However, Lennon is not prepared to see the matter "brushed under the carpet" and hopes some assistance from Hampden referees chief John Fleming might get him some answers. Ahead of Tuesday’s SPL clash against St. Johnstone, Lennon said: “We need to make our voice heard and we will pursue this until I get an answer" (DAILY RECORD, 2/19).