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Paulinho admonished by Chinese authorities for betting ad

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho has been asked by Chinese football authorities to end his involvement with an overseas betting company, urging all players in the Chinese Super League to "be strict with their public image".

Paulinho, who currently plays for CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande, featured in the advert for a Philippines-based gambling company alongside Tsukasa Aoi, an actress and model who has appeared in adult films in Japan.

Gambling and pornography are illegal in China and the Chinese Football Association issued a statement on Saturday evening warning Paulinho about his future behaviour.

"Following an investigation, the representation was the player's own decision, and he has not reported it to his club," said the statement.

"Guangzhou Evergrande have criticised Paulinho and asked him to stop the commercial activities with the betting company immediately in order to put an end to any similar activities in the future.

Paulinho joined Guangzhou from Tottenham in a deal worth 14 million euros ($14.85 million) almost two years ago and since then the likes of Carlos Tevez, Oscar and John Obi Mikel have signed for CSL clubs as the country seeks to turn itself into a footballing power.

The CFA said foreign citizens living in China should comply with the country's laws.

"Recently, FIFA and the AFC have been working hard to protect the integrity of football and have explicitly forbidden professional players from any involvement in the betting industry," it said.

"In addition, it is against the conscientiousness of a professional player to be involved in any betting business. We hope professional players can respect and comply with the regulations, and respect their own career.

"We here again urge that, as role models for youth and the public, professional players be strict with their public image, take a positive lead and maintain a healthy football environment."

Chinese football has had major problems with illegal gambling in the past, with the league blighted by match fixing prior to the game's recent resurgence, which has seen clubs investing significant sums of money to lure some of the sport's biggest names to the country.

($1 = 0.9426 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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