Tianjin Teda’s 3-1 victory over Liaoning Whowin has led to many in the media and footballing community to cast a suspicious glance over the match.
In a midweek CFA Cup match between the two sides, Liaoning crushed struggling Tianjin 5-0, with on-form Edu scoring a hat trick and Pablo Brandan supplying two more. The midweek match was originally supposed to be a home match for Tianjin, but the clubs agreed to play it in Huludao, making Liaoning the home side.
For last night’s match, Liaoning left out all of its foreigners from the lineup except Shavkat Mullajanov, who was an unused substitute. At the same time, the only player on Tianjin who started in both matches was Li Benjian, as the club made 10 changes between the two starting XIs.
It appears Liaoning and Tianjin agreed to a “trade” of league cup advancement for crucial league points. Tianjin’s win saw them go level with Changchun on points as they fight to avoid relegation. Further suspicion was added when in the pre-match press conference Liaoning manager Ma Lin was asked a question that alluded to match-fixing and his answer was, “I’m not clear on that, right now we’re just preparing for the match, of course if the club has some requirements, we’ll follow them.” In his post-match presser, Ma simply offered, “Congratulations to Liaoning on their victory,” before leaving the stage.
While not much has been heard out of Tianjin, Liaoning’s General Manager has been vigorously denying that his club was involved in anything out of the ordinary saying, “I can guarantee this wasn’t match fixing, in the pre-match meeting we even emphasized to the players they had to give it their all, the side may be weakened, but they couldn’t back down.”
It’s not clear if the CFA is going to step in and investigate, but the rampant speculation regarding this match would seem to make it a necessity. With two clubs who have an active history in match-fixing (Tianjin and Changchun) fighting to stay alive, it would seem necessary for the league to crack down on this behavior before things get out of hand.