Details of former Chinese national soccer team coach Li Tie’s arrest revealed

Chinese men's national soccer team head coach Li Tie takes part in a press conference on Sunday in Beijing. Photo: AFP

Chinese men’s national soccer team head coach Li Tie Photo: AFP

A former general manager of Dalian soccer club disclosed details about former head coach of Chinese national soccer team Li Tie being taken away for investigation, according to a documentary aired by Phoenix TV on Saturday.

Li stood trial at the Xianning Intermediate People’s Court in Central China’s Hubei Province on March 29 for multiple bribery charges for a total sum of nearly 120 million yuan ($17 million). Li expressed remorse and pleaded guilty during the 12-hour trial. The sentence will be scheduled at a later date.

“Li was to take part in a training course for professional coaches organized by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) in November 2022 in Dalian,” Shi Xueqing, then general manger of Dalian club says in the documentary. 

The training course began at 8:30 AM on November 9 when an unknown girl entered the classroom, informing all the members that chiefs from the General Administration of Sport would come for inspection and meet everyone. “Therefore, the morning session is very important. No one is allowed to leave for any reason,” said the girl. 

Less than five minutes into the training, the girl came back, she quietly approached Li’s seat and said to him, “Coach Li, someone is looking for you outside.” Li stood up without taking anything, leaving behind his notebook, backpack, and even his phone on the seat. After going out, he never returned and missed the group photo of the training session, according to the documentary. 

After the session concluded, former national team captain Fan Zhiyi, who was also attending the training, felt extremely puzzled by Li’s sudden departure and asked around, “Where did Li Tie go?” Many people thought Li had gone out for other errands and would return for the afternoon class. At that time, many people present didn’t even think that Li wouldn’t come back.

As he was taken away for investigation abruptly, his vehicle—a white commercial van—remained parked in the hotel’s parking lot. Later, his family members came to drive the car back home.

Li was suspected of serious law violations and was placed under investigation in November 2022, according to the discipline inspection and supervision organs in Hubei Province.

From 2019 to 2021, Li, taking advantage of his position as the head coach, illegally accepted bribes totaling over 50.89 million yuan ($7.04 million), according to the court.

From 2015 to 2019, while working as the manager of the Hebei Huaxia Fortune Soccer Club and the Wuhan Zall Club, Li bribed other soccer clubs to cooperate or play passively during matches in order to win or achieve favorable outcomes, spending over 39.05 million yuan.

Li’s trial comes after four former CFA officials, including chief Chen Xuyuan and vice chief Yu Hongchen, were given prison sentences in March for taking bribes.