Another footballer kills himself

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Another footballer kills himself

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K-League President Chung Mong-gyu, second from right, bows his head in apology yesterday at a press conference regarding the recent match-fixing scandal involving professional football players at K-League headquarters in central Seoul. [YONHAP]


The K-League match-fixing scandal escalated yesterday as Seoul United FC football player Chung Jong-kwan, 30, hanged himself in a hotel room in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, unable to bear the guilt of being involved in the match-fixing scam.

According to police, Chung, was found dead at about 1:40 p.m., leaving behind a suicide note that said, “I’m sorry. I feel ashamed to have engaged in match-fixing.”

Chung, who joined Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2004, left the club after allegations of being involved in military conscription corruption in 2008. He played for Seoul United FC in the 2011 Challengers League (K3) this year.

Upon news of Chung’s death, Seoul United FC said they had been unable to keep in contact with Chung since March after he notified the club that he did “not feel well and will receive rehabilitation.”

The incident shocked K-League fans as prosecutors already in the middle of investigating the recent suicide of another K-League player, Incheon United FC goalkeeper Yoon Ki-won, 23, worked to see if Yoon’s suicide was related to the match-fixing scandal.

Yoon was found dead in his car, which was parked at highway rest area, on May 6. A half-burnt briquette was on the passenger seat with an envelope containing 1 million won ($925). However, a suicide note wasn’t found.

Prosecutors are continuing to widen the probe into match-fixing.

The Changwon Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it is looking into allegations involving Incheon United FC. Some Incheon United players are suspected of receiving bribes from gambling brokers beyond the two brokers who have already been arrested in return for deliberately losing matches.

Moreover, Gwangju FC goalkeeper Sung Kyung-mo, 31, who was arrested on charges of receiving 100 million won from gambling brokers to throw a football match, was a member of Incheon United FC from 2005 to December 2010 before joining Gwangju FC this January.

Prosecutors have also conducted a probe of Daejeon Citizen FC, arresting eight players, including its star player, Park Sang-wook, 25, who is suspected of receiving 120 million won from the brokers. He is suspected of splitting the money with his teammates.

But in contrast to their investigation of Daejeon FC, prosecutors have had difficulty processing the Gwangju FC investigation.

Meanwhile, high-ranking Daejeon Citizen FC officials above manager level resigned Sunday in response to growing criticism of the players’ conduct.

Prosecutors said yesterday that they are currently tracing Sung’s bank account activity and any personal connections he has with other team members and added that they acquired video clips of five Gwangju FC games to investigate whether other players are involved in the scam.

According to prosecutors, Sung has denied the allegations and said returned the bribe money to the gambling brokers. But prosecutors believe only a portion of the 100 million won that Sung received from the brokers was returned.

Prosecutors said they will summon more players for questioning as soon as the whereabouts of the 100 million won that Sung received is determined.

The match-fixing scandal was brought to light when prosecutors arrested two players from Gwangju FC and Daejeon Citizen FC for throwing matches after receiving bribes from two gambling brokers, who raked in illicit profits by wagering large bets on the matches the two players participated in.

The Korea Professional Football League held press conference yesterday and apologized for creating a stir.

“I swear on the honor of the Korea Professional Football League and will take the lead in eradicating any attempts of match-fixing,” said K-League President Chung Mong-gyu. “It will hurt me as though someone is cutting into my flesh, but scraping out anyone who hampers the fundamental spirit of football is inevitable.”


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


한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

총재 사과하던 날 前K리거는 자살을 택했다

승부조작 파문에 휩싸인 프로축구의 수장이 고개 숙여 사과했다. 비슷한 시각 전 프로축구 선수가 승부조작에 대한 괴로움으로 자살이라는 비극적인 선택을 했다.

정몽규 한국프로축구연맹 총재는 30일 오후 2시 축구회관에서 승부조작 사태에 관해 사과 성명을 발표했다. 정 총재는 허리 숙여 사죄 인사를 한 후 불법행위 근절과 재발방지 대책 마련을 약속했다. 하지만 K-리그 승부조작에 연루된 선수의 자살로 축구계는 큰 충격에 휩싸였다. 사태는 걷잡을 수 없이 혼란스러운 양상이다.

전 프로축구 출신으로 챌린저스리그(K3리그) 서울 유나이티드 소속의 정종관(30)은 30일 오후 서울 강남구 신사동의 한 호텔 객실에서 목을 매 숨진 채로 발견됐다. 경찰에 따르면 정씨는 "승부 조작의 당사자로서 부끄럽고 괴롭다"는 내용의 자필로 쓴 것으로 보이는 유서를 남겼다. A4용지 한 장과 호텔 메모지 5장으로 된 유서에는 현재 승부조작 혐의로 검찰 조사를 받고 있는 선수 2명을 언급하며 "모두 내 친구들인데 다 내가 시킨 일이다"는 내용이 적혀 있었다.

프로축구 승부조작 사건을 수사 중인 창원지검은 '정씨가 브로커와 선수들을 연결해 준 혐의가 있어 체포영장을 발부했으나 잠적한 상태였다'고 밝혀 유서내용이 사실임을 뒷받침했다. 정씨는 대전 시티즌과 광주FC 선수에게 돈을 주고 승부조작을 포섭한 혐의로 구속된 브로커 김모(28)씨와 마산공고 축구부 선후배 사이로 알려졌다.

앞서 이날 오후 정몽규 프로축구연맹 총재는 사과문을 통해 "승부조작 사태로 국민 여러분과 K-리그 팬 여러분께 큰 실망과 심려를 끼쳐 드린 데 대해 머리 숙여 사과드린다. 한국프로축구의 명예를 걸고 K-리그 내부의 승부조작 시도와 불법 베팅 등을 발본색원하겠다"라고 말했다. 이어 "어설픈 미봉책으로는 나머지 대부분의 정직한 선수들까지 매도하고 오염시키는 등 더 큰 화를 불러올 뿐이다. 정부가능한 모든 방법을 동원해 승부조작을 근절토록 하겠다"고 덧붙였다.

그러나 정 총재는 이렇다할 대책을 내놓지는 못했다. 현재로선 검찰 수사 결과가 나오면 연맹 규정에 따라 출장 정지 혹은 제명으로 징계하는 수준이다. 정 총재는 'K리그를 중단할 의향은 없느냐'는 질문에 "어려운 상황이지만 축구팬들 위해서라도 리그는 계속되어야 한다"고 리그 강행 의사를 밝혔다.

연맹은 승부조작으로 의심되는 선수들을 검찰에 수사 의뢰하는 방안에도 난색을 표시했다. 안기헌 연맹 사무총장은 '각 구단마다 승부조작 관련 블랙리스트가 있다고 한다. 그들을 수사 의뢰할 의향은 없는가'라는 질문에 "그런 소문들을 듣고 각 구단에 연락을 했지만 구단마다 리스트가 없다고 부인했다. 구단 대표자 회의를 통해 다시 확인해보겠지만 물증이 없으면 어떻게 할 방법이 없다"라고 말했다.

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