Ex-Everton star faces prison after being charged for 'accepting bribes' in China

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Li Tie during his time at Everton, where he spent four years between 2002 and 2006.
Li Tie during his time at Everton, where he spent four years between 2002 and 2006.

Former Everton and Sheffield United midfielder Li Tie is facing a lengthy jail term after being charged in China with a number of bribery offences.

The 46-year-old, who spent four seasons at Goodison Park, was last year accused of “serious violations of the law” by state prosecutors and had been held in a detention centre, according to Chinese media, and earlier this week formal charges were filed following an investigation in the province of Hubei.

A statement from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate – the country’s top agency overseeing prosecution – said: “Li Tie, the former head coach of the Chinese national men’s football team, was suspected of accepting bribes, offering bribes, offering bribes at the unit, accepting bribes of non-state employees, and offering bribes to non-state employees.

“The investigation was completed by the Chibi City Supervision Committee and Chibi Public Security Bureau of Hubei province. The investigation was completed and transferred.”

The charges are part of a wider government crackdown on alleged corruption in Chinese football. In January senior executives at the Chinese Football Association, including secretary general Liu Yi and deputy secretary general Chen Yongliang were investigated over “severe violations of the law.”

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In February the CFA president Chen Xuyuan was added to the list of those being investigated, while the South Korea international Son Jun-ho, a 31-year-old defensive midfielder who plays for the Shandong Taishan club, was detained on suspicion of accepting bribes while attempting to leave the country.

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Li joined Everton in 2002, initially on loan, and made 29 league appearances under David Moyes before joining permanently. But he failed to kick on and joined Sheffield United in 2006, spending two years in Yorkshire before returning home.

He was most recently in charge of China’s senior team having also previously acted as head coach of Hebei China Fortune, the top-flight side that was formally dissolved earlier this year.

“England left me with great memories. I still go back every year,” Li said of his time at Everton in a rare interview, with Bleacher Report, in 2014. “My daughter was born there and she is now nine years old.

“When I took her back to a game earlier this season, the staff still joke that she is a scouser. Many of the club staff are still there—they cannot believe how much she has grown.”

Alan Smith

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