Li Tie: Former Everton and Sheffield United footballer 'sentenced to life in prison' after confessing to paying over £300k in bribes and match-fixing

Former Everton star Li Tie has been "sentenced to life in prison" after confessing to paying over £300,000 in bribes and match-fixing

Former Everton player Li Tie has reportedly been sentenced to life in prison in China for corruption after confessing to paying over £300,000 in bribes to become coach of China's national team. Li admitted to paying the bribes in a televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV, and also confessed to taking part in a match-fixing scandal to win promotions with his club teams.

Li said: "I'm very sorry. I should have kept my head to the ground and followed the right path. There were certain things that at the time were common practices in football."

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China-based reporter and author Mark Dreyer said Li has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the scandal. The former Everton player admitted fixing matches when he was coach of Hebei China Fortune and Wuhan Zall. He added in his televised statement: "By gaining 'success' through such improper means, it actually made me more and more impatient and eager for quick results. In order to achieve good performance, I resorted to influencing referees, bribing opposing players and coaches, sometimes through clubs dealing with other clubs."

He was regarded as one of the most talented Chinese players of his generation when he signed for Everton in August 2002. He played 33 matches for Everton while on loan from Chinese club Liaoning during the 2002-03 season and played seven games the following season after signing permanently. The defensive midfielder was released by Everton in 2006 and joined Sheffield United, but he played only once because of lingering injury issues.

Li, who played 92 times for China between 1995 and 2007, moved to Chengdu Blades, who were affiliated to Sheffield United in 2008 and later returned to hometown club Liaoning. After coaching at club level, he acted as caretaker coach of the China national team after Marcello Lippi resigned in 2019 and was then appointed permanently.

Li, 46, finished his career in China and served as manager of their national team between 2019 and 2021. A year after Li left that post, the Chinese public prosecutor released a bombshell statement saying he was "suspected of accepting and offering bribes" amid a huge crackdown on corruption in football. In November 2022, it was initially announced Li had been placed under investigation for "serious violation of laws" by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the anti-corruption agency the National Supervisory Commission.

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