Choi drops Korea fix­ing bomb­shell

SOCCER

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS -

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.

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