Two-game ban issued for Dokdo celebration

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Two-game ban issued for Dokdo celebration

FIFA, the international governing body of football, has suspended Korean player Park Jong-woo for two international matches over his controversial celebration of the country’s bronze medal at the London Olympics, officials here said yesterday.

The Korea Football Association said it was notified of FIFA’s disciplinary ruling on Monday, some 13 days after the Switzerland-based agency held a disciplinary meeting to review Park’s case.

The 23-year-old midfielder was also fined 3,500 Swiss francs ($3,781), while the KFA itself received a warning, officials added, for “failure to properly instruct players” on rules of conduct.

Park came under the international spotlight in August in London, following his celebration of Korea’s bronze medal with a banner that read, in Korean, “Dokdo is our territory.”

Dokdo refers to Korea’s easternmost islets, to which Japan has laid territorial claims. Dokdo has been a source of diplomatic tensions between the Northeast Asian neighbors for years. Korea defeated Japan 2-0 to win the bronze, its first Olympic football medal.

Park, however, was barred from attending the medal ceremony and has yet to collect his bronze medal, as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee deemed his celebratory action political.

The IOC’s Olympic Charter prohibits any display of political statements by participating athletes, coaches and even fans.

Korean officials, in Park’s defense, had argued that Park’s actions were not premeditated and that he had simply taken the banner from a fan in the stands.

In an e-mailed statement, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee said it suspended Park for “displaying unsporting behavior.”

“The committee took into account that the behavior of the player, even though it appears not to have been premeditated or intentional, contradicts the principal idea and goal of sportsmanship and fair play, and therefore, cannot be tolerated,” FIFA said.

“The Korea Football Association was warned that should incidents of such nature occur again in the future, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose harsher sanctions on the Korea Football Association.”

In response, the KFA said it will “humbly accept” FIFA’s decision.


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