Match-Fixing Scandal Rocks Korea’s Top Soccer League

by Jay Yim

There is nothing quite like a gambling scandal that can completely tarnish the reputation of a sports league, destroy the character of its’ athletes while ruining the fans’ love for the game.

The Korean Professional Football League’s once pristine image took a mega-sized hit by experiencing its own dirty little scandal as several players have allegedly been involved in match-fixing scandals.

Ten active players from Korea’s top professional soccer league, along with four non-players — including two gambling brokers — have been charged by authorities for betting on the outcome of K-League games.

The K-League announced it will offer cash rewards to individuals who report match-fixing attempts while offering plea bargains to involved players who turn themselves in.

The scandal has resulted in several repercussions.

Jeong Jong-Kwan

The grizzliest and most tragic consequence involved Seoul United mid-fielder Jeong Jong-kwan, who allegedly solicited players to participate in game fixing. Jeong was found dead in a Seoul hotel room on May 30 along with a suicide note confessing his role in the scandal.

In addition, Liverpool F.C. of the English Premier League also announced it would cancel its scheduled July 19 match in Seoul with defending K League champions F.C. Seoul.

An official from FC Seoul told the Korea Times that discussions with Liverpool had broke down following the scandal. “The discussions between us and Liverpool on having a friendly ground to a halt since the scandal overwhelmed the K-League,” said the official.

Korea’s vice sports minister Park Sun-Kyoo said illegal sports gambling will now result in up to seven years in jail and fines of up to 70 million won ($44,700), up from three years and 15 million won ($9,577), he said.

“Match fixing is a mortally unfair act that can never be accepted under any circumstances,” said Park. “No matter how painful the process will be, we will try to resolve all the problems.”