CBA teams Shanghai, Jiangsu disqualified for match fixing
Published: Apr 17, 2023 11:01 PM
Shanghai Sharks coach Li Chunjiang Photo: VCG

Shanghai Sharks coach Li Chunjiang Photo: VCG

Chinese basketball governing body the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has announced that the CBA league teams the Shanghai Sharks and Jiangsu Dragons have been disqualified from the 2022-23 season for "being passive in competition" during a CBA playoff game on Friday.

The two teams have been fined 5 million yuan ($727,000) each and the coach of each team given long-term bans. Jiangsu Dragons head coach Li Nan has been banned from coaching for three years, while his Shanghai Sharks counterpart Li Chunjiang will serve a five-year ban.

Yao Ming, president of the CBA, expressed his deep regret for the situation, acknowledging the long history of both teams and the significant figures associated with them.

"This has been a somber weekend. Both clubs have a long history and had offered the league milestone figures," Yao told reporters on Monday in a briefing. 

"For sports competitions, credibility is the most important thing instead of ability. Our lesson is profound and we need to change something through this incident to make the cost already paid worthwhile."

Shi Linjie, general manager of the Jiangsu team, was also banned from engaging in basketball-related activities for five years. Similarly, the Shanghai team's general manager Jiang Yusheng was banned from basketball-related activities for three years.

The controversial game, which ended 108-104 on Friday night, sparked an immediate online outcry among fans, who believed it was a poorly acted "fixed match" and urged the General Administration of Sport and judicial authorities to investigate.

The suspicion lies in the Jiangsu players' inactivity on the court that led to a 10-0 run for Shanghai in the final one and a half minutes of the game, which ultimately meant Jiangsu were eliminated in the playoffs after being defeated by Shanghai 2-1 on aggregate. Jiangsu's coach Li Nan did not try to interrupt his players by calling for a timeout to adjust tactics.

The Shanghai Sharks, where CBA President Yao rose to fame from 1997 before embarking on an NBA career in 2002, have accepted the punishment, saying it will "further carry out internal investigations to effectively rectify the team's style and discipline." The Jiangsu team also said they accepted the punishment and will seek for new coach and manager immediately.

The disqualification of Shanghai means their CBA playoff quarterfinals opponents Shenzhen will qualify for the semifinals automatically. 

The CBA has been beleaguered by controversies recently, including the Xinjiang Flying Tigers making a U-turn on whether to participate in the league following a contract dispute with player Zhou Qi.