Chinese Gambling Heavily on the World Cup. [And it’s Illegal.]

Here’s a dispatch (from China’s news agencies) that I found incredibly interesting and I want to share it all with you.

I’ve been wild about the World Cup, watching every match I could, while I’m not at work.

China, it seems is going wild over the cup too. Only thing is, they don’t have a team competing in it.

No matter. They are gambling, illegally it would appear, online. In record numbers.

As of this past Saturday, one day into the tournament, Chinese police said they already confiscated $102 million in illegal funds and arrested some 3,600 suspects for illegal gambling in connection with the World Cup. This from a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“The state of our country’s online illegal gambling activities is still a very grim situation,” a police official told reporters, according to the Legal Daily. He largely blamed offshore gambling syndicates for “infiltrating” the country, according to the report.

While Chinese officials like to blame foreigners for the illegal activities, corruption has a long history in Chinese soccer.

Traditionally, national-team hopefuls had to pay tens of thousands of yuan in bribes, said Rowan Simons, author of a book on soccer in China, according to CNN.

“Players have come out and said they can’t play for the national team because they can’t afford it,” he said, according to the report.

Surely, neither China’s soccer skill nor its level of corruption is the worst in the world. In both areas it falls somewhere in the middle: According to FIFA, Chinese soccer ranks 84th in the world, just ahead of Mozambique.

Yeah, China didn’t qualify for the World Cup, but the government is heavily promoting the competition. CCTV, the state-run television network, airs the matches each night along with pre- and post-game commentary, while a number of domestic newspaper reporters have made the long flight to South Africa.

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