BEIJING: Yan Shiduo, the beleaguered head of the China Football Association (CFA), has been sacked, China’s sports ministry said on Thursday.
“Yan Shiduo has been removed as the head of the Football Administration Centre,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
Shiduo will be replaced by Xie Yalong, a leading sports official formerly in charge of China’s track and field association and number two at the Beijing Sports University.
The sacking of Shiduo, highly unpopular for his handling of the CFA’s Super League in its maiden year has been rumoured since turmoil began to spread late last year.
Speculation he would go intensified when China failed to advance to the final qualifying stages of World Cup 2006 in November.
China’s sporting industry is undergoing huge market-oriented changes, but it remains administered by the ruling Communist Party which seeks to reap maximum prestige from international events.
In October, seven teams in China’s Super League threatened to boycott matches if Shiduo did not push forward market reforms, increase revenue sharing and end widespread gambling and corruption in league play.
Although Shiduo agreed to greater transparency into league finances, his reform proposals were widely debunked in the state press.
Shiduo’s fate was further sealed when German electronics giant Siemens decided in late January not to renew its multi-million euro top sponsorship of the league.
The league is without a main sponsor, just weeks ahead of the March 5 start of its second season.
Yalong, 49, formerly headed the China Track and Field Association and led the Chinese team at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships. – AFP