K-League fans shocked at game-fixing scandal

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K-League fans shocked at game-fixing scandal


An official from the Korea Professional Football League outside the K-League office in Seoul yesterday as an emergency meeting was held. [YONHAP]

K-League fans were in shock yesterday when prosecutors issued arrest warrants for two football players who allegedly threw matches after receiving bribes from gambling brokers.

According to Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office’s Special Branch Unit in South Gyeongsang, the two K-League players, 31-year-old goalkeeper Sung Kyung-mo from Gwangju FC, and 25-year-old midfielder Park Sang-wook from Daejeon Citizen FC, were accused of receiving money from two brokers to fix match results. They are said to have received 100 million won ($91,900) and 120 million won, respectively.

Prosecutors said the two brokers, identified as a former Korea Professional Football League player surnamed Kim, 28, and an unemployed man, also surnamed Kim, 27, bribed the two professional players to throw games that the brokers bet large amounts of money on.

They are investigating whether the brokers engaged in illegal betting.

The two brokers were taken into custody for questioning earlier this week and were arrested Wednesday for violating the national sports promotion law.

The brokers, reported to be members of a gang in South Gyeongsang, are accused of raking in illicit profits by winning bets on the thrown games. Prosecutors said they targeted two players who earned relatively low salaries.

Sung allowed a total of 11 goals in four games during opening matches of the 2011 K-League Cup, which kicked off on March 16. His team lost three of the games.

Park also played in one of the opening games and his team lost.

In addition to the two arrested players, prosecutors said yesterday they have summoned former national football team striker Kim Dong-hyun, 27, for questioning about match rigging.

“Judging from several circumstances, it is highly likely that Kim is also involved in the scam,” an official from the prosecutors’ office said. Kim is currently enlisted in the Army.

Prosecutors are expanding the investigation to see if the recent suicide of an Incheon United FC goalkeeper, Yoon Ki-won, 23, is related to the scandal.

According to media reports, other players on the two teams weren’t aware of the two players’ alleged throwing of games, but they had heard rumors of it.

Rumors have long circulated about professional athletes colluding with gambling brokers to manipulate the results of sports matches.

The Korea Professional Football League responded to the news on Wednesday by saying that it has educated all its players about problems related to sports gambling and that earlier this year it received signed pledges from all players, including Sung and Park, that they would pay a 50 million won fine and be permanently banned from the K-League if they are found engaging in it.

However, with rumors of more people being involved spreading, the K-League held an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon with the heads of all 16 teams.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
“거액 받아 500만, 1000만원씩 동료 선수 서너 명과 나눴다”
프로축구 ‘승부조작 매수’
검찰, 선수 10여 명 수사
김동현 선수 조사 뒤 귀가

‘스포츠 토토식 복권’의 거액 배당금을 노리고 프로축구 선수를 매수한 사건을 수사 중인 검찰은 브로커로부터 거액을 받은 선수 2명 외에 10여 명의 선수가 돈을 나눠 가진 혐의를 포착해 수사를 확대하고 있다.

 창원지검 특수부(부장 이성희)는 26일 구속된 두 명 가운데 한 명의 선수로부터 “서너 명의 동료선수와 500만원, 1000만원씩 나눠 썼다”는 진술을 확보한 것으로 알려졌다. 검찰은 조만간 돈을 나눠 가진 혐의가 있는 선수들을 소환조사할 방침이다. 검찰은 사건 관련자가 늘어남에 따라 수사 검사를 1명에서 2명으로 늘렸다.

 앞서 창원지법 심형섭 판사는 이날 브로커로부터 1억원과 1억2000만원을 각각 받은 혐의(국민체육진흥법 위반)로 프로축구단 두 곳의 성모(31)·박모(25) 선수에 대한 구속영장을 발부했다. 두 선수는 이날 열린 영장실질심사에서 돈 받은 사실 등을 시인한 것으로 전해졌다.

 곽규홍 창원지검 차장검사는 “두 명의 선수가 받은 돈을 다른 선수에게 나눠줬을 가능성을 확인 중이며 선수를 추가소환하기 위해 노력하고 있다”고 말했다. 그는 “일단 두 개 구단 선수에 한정해 수사하고 있다”고 말했다. 두 선수가 각각 거액을 받은 데다 한 팀에서 적어도 3~4명 이상의 선수가 관여하지 않으면 승부 조작이 어렵다고 검찰은 판단하고 있다. 하지만 두 선수의 소속팀은 다른 선수와의 관련성을 부인하고 있다.

 검찰은 이날 전 국가대표 출신 김동현(27·상주 상무) 선수를 소환해 돈을 받았는지 조사한 뒤 돌려보냈다. 검찰은 이 사건은 소속팀 상무와는 관련이 없다고 설명했다. 김 선수에 대한 수사가 끝나면 군 검찰에 기록을 넘겨 사법처리토록 할 방침이다.

 검찰은 구단 두 곳에 대한 수사가 마무리되면 다른 지역에도 브로커가 있는지, 이들로부터 돈 받은 선수가 있는지 확인할 계획이다. 또 이달 6일 발생한 인천 유나이티드 윤기원(24) 선수 자살과 이번 사건의 연관성이 드러나면 추가 조사할 수 있다는 입장이다.

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