Former Everton player Li Tie has reportedly been sentenced to life in prison in his native China due to his involvement in a corruption scandal.

The 46-year-old confessed publicly to paying 3 million yuan (£330,000) in bribes to manage China’s national team, as well as participating in a match-fixing scheme that benefited his club teams, during a televised confession on state broadcaster CCTV.

Li, considered one of the most talented Chinese players of his era and earning 92 caps for his country, had a brief stint with Everton during the 2002-03 season, making 33 appearances on loan from his childhood club Liaoning. He was later signed permanently for £1.2 million but faced setbacks due to a leg injury sustained while on international duty in February 2004.

Despite signing a two-year contract with Sheffield United in 2006, Li’s playing career was hampered by injuries, leading to only one appearance for the Blades before returning to China in 2008. Upon retiring from playing in 2011, Li pursued coaching, but his career has since been tarnished by scandal.

Li admitted to match-fixing while serving as head coach of Hebei China Fortune and later Wuhan Zall, with the latter achieving promotion from China League One as champions in 2018.

Recent reports from China indicate that Li has been sentenced to life in prison, along with the former head of the Chinese Football Association, Chen Xuyuan, who received a 15-year sentence, and current vice-president Du Zhaocai, who has reportedly been given a 13-year term.

In a televised statement last month, Li expressed remorse, acknowledging his wrongdoing and the influence of the prevailing culture of corruption in football. He admitted to resorting to unethical practices such as influencing referees and bribing opposing players and coaches, attributing his actions to a desire for quick success and a reliance on improper means.

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