|China football chief calls time
The head of China's football ruling body quit today, state media said, plunging the sport into new controversy with reports his exit was linked to a dispute over the contract of the national team’s Spanish coach.
Wei Di stepped down as chief of the Chinese Football Association after a three-year tenure which saw the sport’s shameful past of match-fixing and bribery finally confronted, but poor results from the national side, AFP reports. The 58-year-old oversaw a financial drive to improve China's performance on the pitch, centered on the appointment of former Real Madrid and Spain boss Jose Antonio Camacho on a reported US$8 million-a-year contract in 2011.
Sources cited by Xinhua appeared to suggest Wei, who was “close to the age of retirement,’’ was forced out over poor results and a need to prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
During Wei's tenure, the team failed to reach the 2014 World Cup after finishing third in a group topped by Iraq and Jordan.
But other reports said unspecified “internal conflicts’’ were responsible, while Chinese Internet portal Netease cited an unnamed insider saying Wei was blamed for a “loophole’’ in Camacho's contract requiring the CFA to pay his income tax.
CFA officials had expected corporate sponsors to pay the tax but they had refused, the website said.
No one from the CFA was immediately available to comment.