Corruption runs deep in school football leagues

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Corruption runs deep in school football leagues

Prosecutors have revealed a corrupt underbelly to Korean school football, indicting a string of coaches, parents and even a referee for bribery.

The Anyang branch office of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that they have indicted nine coaches - one from a middle school, seven from high schools, and one from a university - for taking tens of millions of won in bribes from parents of student athletes between 2009 and 2011.

The prosecution also indicted two parents for greasing the palms of coaches to get their kids on teams. A Korea Football Association referee surnamed Goh was booked on allegations he took 4.5 million won ($4,010) in cash from a middle school coach for making favorable rulings on a match.

The prosecution said a high school soccer team coach in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, surnamed Park, 48, raked in a total of 72.5 million won from six middle school parents for granting them admission to his school. He’s also accused of receiving 10 million won from an Ulsan university coach surnamed Lee in return for sending his top players to the college.

“Many coaches at middle and high schools have maintained close relationships since they played together either at the same school or on the national team,” a prosecution spokesman said. “They often send or receive players between one other and have taken bribes from parents.”

Park, prosecutors said, is a former member of the Korean national football team. Lee was a coach for one of the country’s Olympic football teams. They said Lee received a luxury sedan from a parent and that he had given out around 100 million won to six other high school coaches to get their best players.

A coach at a high school in Seoul, whose surname is also Lee and who is a former member of the KFA’s technical committee, which evaluates players, allegedly received a total of 47.2 million won from eight middle school student parents. He also got 25 million won from Lee, the Ulsan university coach.

Another former national team member who is currently a coach at a high school in Gangwon took 53 million won from seven parents and 10 million won from Ulsan’s Lee.

The prosecution began its investigation after receiving a petition from suspicious parents. The probe is ongoing.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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