Choi drops Korea fixing bombshell
INTERNATIONAL striker Choi Sung- kuk’s admission that he was offered money to fix matches prompted another wave of headlines and controversy yesterday that has South Korean football authorities deeply concerned about the extent of corruption in Asia’s oldest professional league.
Already 10 K-League players have been indicted in a match-fixing scandal that is getting deeper by the day. Choi, who has made 26 international appearances for South Korea, is easily the highestprofile player to be linked to the problem.
“We don’t know how serious it is,” Lee Kap-jin, a former Korea Football Association vice president and head of the KFA’s newlyformed misconduct committee, said yesterday. “We don’t know how deep and wide it goes but I think it will take a longtime to sort out. We only know what the prosecutors have found and the players who have come forward voluntary to confess.”
South Korean prosecutors indicted 14 people earlier this month, including 10 K-League players. Eight of the players were contracted to Daejeon Citizen and allegedly took kickbacks from illegal gambling brokers to fix the outcome of games. A eleventh allegedly bet on one of his own team’s games after learning the outcome would be rigged.
A former K-League player, who allegedly worked as a broker, was found dead in an apparent suicide late last month.
Choi, nicknamed “Little Maradona,” was questioned this week. He told prosecutors that in June 2010, he attended a meeting between players and gambling brokers while he was playing for military club Gwangju Sangmu, a team that has since relocated to Sangju. He has since moved to Suwon Bluewings.
According to Choi, he rejected an offer of money from then teammate Kim Dong-hyun — who was also at the meeting and has already been arrested by military prosecutors over the scandal.
Choi reportedly claimed that he told the club’s coaching staff of the incident. The admissions come a month after Choi denied all claims that he was involved in matchfixing at an emergency workshop called by the K-League.
Choi’s admission came days after a goalkeeper with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors acknowledged his involvement in the scandal, but had his name withheld by investigators. South Korean media identified the player as Yeom Dong-gyun.