FIFA slaps global bans on 10 tied to game-fixing

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FIFA slaps global bans on 10 tied to game-fixing

FIFA, football's world governing body, imposed life bans on eight Korean football players on Tuesday who were tied to match-fixing in the domestic K-League, extending existing penalties that were only applied to games overseen by the Korea Football Association.

Five-year bans were also slapped on two other players, including Choi Sung-kuk, a former national team striker who had tried to play in the Macedonian First League after he was kicked off the Suwon Bluewings for match-fixing.

"These cases prove once more that the threat of illegal betting and match-fixing is not only confined to one part of the world" said Ralf Mutschke, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, in a release posted on the FIFA Web site. Three Croatians, including one manager and two players, also had their local league sanctions extended by FIFA together with the Korean players.

"The integrity of sport, and especially football, is hugely at risk, and FIFA is firmly determined to combat this threat and sanction those who do not play by FIFA's regulations," Mutschke said.

The 10 Korean footballers are among the 58 K-League players who have been banned from playing either for life or for five years in games managed by the KFA, including international matches.

They have also been banned for the same periods from coaching teams registered with the KFA, including those at elementary schools across the country.

With FIFA's decision, the sanctions will be extended to all games and teams governed by the international association, KFA officials said. FIFA is expected to take similar actions on the other 48 K-League players.

The KFA Disciplinary Committee approved the K-League sanctions on Aug. 25 of last year after the 58 players were indicted for having helped manipulate regular K-League and League Cup games.

The players belonged to eight of the 16 K-League sides and fixed 21 matches held between October 2010 and May 2011, according to a K-League official.

All of them received life bans from the KFA, except for Kim Jung-kyum of the Pohang Steelers, who did not participate in the match-fixing scheme but bet money on a game that he knew was fixed.

FIFA said it is imposing a five- year sanction on Kim along with Choi Sung-kuk, who received a life ban from the KFA. The KFA committee said it will discuss with FIFA the reduction of its penalty when applied to international football. Choi, a 29-year-old striker, was indicted on charges of helping fix two matches in June of last year while playing for the Gwangju Sangmu. Under FIFA's ruling, he would be able to play in foreign leagues in five years.

"We thought FIFA would uphold our decision to ban him for life," said an official of the KFA Disciplinary Committee. "It could be by mistake. But if it is not, we will protest it."

In March, FIFA informed the KFA that it would ban Choi from playing overseas. But at the time, it did not say how long the ban would last.

On Tuesday, FIFA said six players, Kim Eung-jin, Hong Sung-yo, Park Byoung-kyu, Yoon Yeo-san, Sung Kyung-il and Lee Jung-ho, could have their life bans reduced after a probationary period. But the other two, Lee Sang-hong and Kim Dong-hyun, will have no such consideration. Kim Dong-hyun confounded criticism last month when he and a friend in the Korea Baseball Organization were arrested attempting to kidnap a woman.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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