Winning at too high a price

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Winning at too high a price

Police have filed for an arrest warrant for a former football coach at Korea University who allegedly habitually bribed referees to fix games, paying 10 referees a combined 23 million won ($20,300) in return for manipulating matches in his team’s favor during the 2008-2009 college football season.

Korea University won every single game last year, including regular matches against Yonsei University, which were refereed by those who were accused of receiving the kickbacks.

One of the referees confessed to police that he called unnecessary fouls and ordered the opposing team members to leave the field. But the allegedly corrupt referees were booked without detention.

It is unbelievable and disheartening to hear how far corruption has tainted the sports arena, stretching even to our college campuses.

There have been bribery and match-fixing scandals in the sports community before. Only two months ago, the Korea Wrestling Federation’s Chun Shin-il raised a storm by confessing in a trial that he bought off referees during the Beijing Olympic Games.

The Korean team was also suspected of having influenced referees in soccer and handball matches during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Whether the refereeing was impartial was also questioned during the Korea vs. Japan match in the 2002 World Cup.

It has been hard to prove and penalize fraud in sports games because of the clandestine nature of the business.

But the skeletons were let out of the closet, however shockingly, at the university level, where fair play should be taught and practiced as sacred.

If amateur athletes, from their college days, learn to win at any cost, there is no future for sports.

The sweat and labor of student athletes are wasted if their coach or team officials bribe referees instead of encouraging them to play their best.

It’s not football that should bear the taint of scandal, but the coach’s personal reputation.

The university that turned a blind eye to the coach’s misappropriation of 170 million won in team operating funds - money collected from parents of the athletes - should also be held accountable.

The Football Association has its own share in the blame, with at least one association member suspected of collaborating by distributing the corrupt referees evenly in matches to help the team win.

The university and association should come up with a fundamental measure to wipe out corruption in college sports games.
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