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This story is about the battle between good and evil that is at the heart of international soccer.

Emmanuel Petit, World Cup–winning French midfielder. It begins with a murder. Actually, it begins with two gruesome, bloody murders.

On August 9, 2008, in the northern English town of Newcastle, the bodies of Kevin Zhen Xing Yang, a good-looking, friendly Chinese graduate student, and his girlfriend, Cici Xi Zhou, were discovered in a small flat near the city centre. Yang and Zhou had not simply been killed but tortured for hours before their deaths: his throat was slashed, her head smashed in three places.

The police were mystified. The couple seemed to be popular. They had lots of friends and no apparent enemies. The case seemed unsolvable, until the police discovered Yang’s real career. He was not, as he had told immigration authorities, a graduate student, but part of an international gambling ring. Yang’s job was to organize other young Chinese living in the UK to monitor British soccer games for the multibillion-dollar illegal Asian gambling market.

They would go to the stadiums, watch the games, and provide live commentary on their mobile phones back to Asia.

It was a clear, simple and very well-rewarded task, but somewhere, some how, Yang decided to betray his employers. When the mob decides to kill, what they do with their victims’ bodies sends a clear signal to the rest of the world.

Most people disappear, ending up in anonymous cement holes or piles of acid-made dust dumped into a harbour.

But for traitors and betrayers there must be a public demonstration of the power of the mob. Yang and Zhou got made into a message.

Their mutilated bodies were symbols of what happens to those who betray a powerful, criminal industry. English police caught a man who had been at the house. He had blood on his clothes and Yang’s watch and computer.

His defense was that he was simply renting a room in their apartment. He had been forced to open the door to the murderers and was tied up, terrified, in the bathroom while the torture and murders were going on.

Despite this story, he was convicted and sentenced to thirty-three years in jail, but no one, not the police, not the judge, not the victims’ families thought he was the brains behind the killings nor that he had acted alone.

The judge said at the trial that he thought the defendant was too frightened to reveal who the other killers had been.

To announce this finding, the English police held a public press conference. It was largely ignored in their own country and in the rest of Europe. However, it was broadcast live to China.

There, an estimated five hundred million people tuned in to watch the event, or five times the number who watched the 2008 Super Bowl.

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