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Ex-Everton and Sheffield United player ‘sentenced to life in prison’ after confession

Ex-Everton and Sheffield United player Li Tie has been ‘sentenced to life in prison’ after a confession of paying bribes and match-fixing.

Li, who served as China manager from 2019 to 2021, has been facing bribery charges according to the Chinese public prosecutor.

The accusations include both accepting and offering bribes as part of the crackdown on corruption in football.

China-based author Mark Dreyer has reported that Li has been sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the scandal.

During the trial, Li, aged 46, admitted to paying £330,000 in bribes in order to secure the position of manager for the Chinese national team.

Additionally, he confessed to being involved in a match-fixing scandal that aimed to secure promotions while managing Hebei China Fortuna and Wuhan Zall.

Li said to China Central Television (CCTV) last month: “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.

“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.

“This behaviour becomes a habit, and eventually, there is even a slight dependence on these practices.”

After being placed under investigation back in November 2023, his confession aired in a state-backed documentary which revealed “all-round” corruption in the sport.

Li made who made 40 appearances for the Toffees in all competitions between 2002 and 2006 before signing for Sheffield United but struggled for game time and a lingering injury, so went back to his homeland.

He was probed by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection relating to match fixing whilst he was managing Hebei China Fortune and Wuhan Zall between 2015 and 2020.

And then earlier this week, Li appeared in a state-backed documentary in China, admitting to match fixing, as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration said they were cracking down on bribe taking.

The ex-Premier League player paid for brides which allowed him to get the job as head coach of the Chinese national team between October 2019 and December 2021.

He admits to arranging nearly $421,000 (£330,954) in bribes, so that he could take up the position of head coach, while also taking part in fixing matches in his tenure as a club coach of Wuhan Zall.

Li successfully rigged a match at Hebei China Fortune, where he managed between August 2015 and August 2016, then continued to promote match-fixing after becoming the manager of Wuhan Zall Football Club in November 2017.

He says he achieved one of his “biggest dreams”, but it turns out there’s more to the story, asking Wuhan Zall Football Club – where he had been a coach – to intervene on his behalf with the Chinese FA with a promise to return the favour.

Lie, 48, rigged matches at Hebei China Fortune and continued to promote match-fixing when he became the head coach of Wuhan Zall Football Club in 2017.


Chinese media had previously said that Li was cooperating with the inquiry after his arrest before he was reportedly transferred to a detention centre.

Li won 8 of the 9 matches in his debut season managing Hebei China Fortune, helping them get promoted to the Chinese Super League, before he also guided Whuan Zall FC to promotion in 2018.

However, Luo Chuan, from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in China, said in the documentary that both promotions were down to bribery and match-fixing.

Hebei’s then-president Meng Jing says in the documentary that for the last match of the 2015 season alone, Hebei China Fortune spent 14 million yuan – over £1.5million at current exchange rates – bribing the players and managers of Shenzhen FC.

It’s also found that a two million yuan payment to the Chinese Football Association president got Ti Li the job of China’s head coach, signing a 60 million yuan deal with Wuhan Zall in exchange for selecting four players for international appearances who, it was claimed, weren’t good enough to play for the national squad.

Twitter users reacted with the ex-Everton and Sheffield United player ‘sentenced to life in prison’ after his confession…

@seano_: Did not expect to wake to news that Li Tie is getting jailed for life in China for corruption 😬🤯

@chimney1878: Li Tie, Curry, Chips and Solitary Confinement

@Twodogsred: The Premier League are set to dock Everton a further 10 points.

@MacSkalitude: The player was quoted as saying, “After 4 years at Everton, life in prison holds no fears for me”

@michaelefc_: Never ever a dull moment in Evertonia.

@PienaarsPianos: Only a matter of time before the Premier League docks us an additional 7 points for this.

@ProducerCai: One normal day of Everton is all I ask

@bluesofgoodison: Just one normal fucking day is all we ask for

@danielscaddon: Once everton has touched you 😂

@HFOTC1878: Li Tie curry chips and 40 to lifeeeeee 🎶

SEE MORE: Dani Alves handed jail sentence after being found guilty of sexual assault

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