Jeonbuk scout is accused of bribing two K-League refsA scout for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors was indicted on Monday on suspicion of bribing two K-League referees, according to the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office
The two referees were also indicted without detention on the charge of receiving bribes. One referee, 41-year-old, allegedly received
1 million won ($839) in two occasions while the other referee, 36, allegedly obtained the same amount of money from the Jeonbuk scout in three occasions in 2013.?
The indictment comes after the two referees had previously been sentenced for receiving bribes from Gyeongnam FC, a team in the second-tier K-League Challenge. The prosecutors discovered the Jeonbuk scout’s alleged involvement while investigating the Gyeongnam case.
Jeonbuk is one of the elite clubs in the K-League who won the league championship in 2014 and again in 2015, and is one of the most beloved clubs in Korean football today. The popularity of the club makes the scandal more considerable than when Gyeongnam FC was charged with the allegation.
After the news went viral, Jeonbuk quickly made an official statement on Monday dismissing any previous knowledge on the matter.
It also stated that it has been confirmed after investigation that the scout made the payment to the referees on his own discretion, apologizing for the action that is “against sportsmanship conduct” and “inappropriate.” The club also promised its full cooperation in the investigation.
Despite the club’s statement, some question its denial of involvement in the case. While the prosecutors have no proof of the club’s involvement yet, many question why a scout would spend money from his own pocket to pay off the referees unless he was directed by the club or promised some sort of compensation.
Fans are also skeptical about the team’s explanation, expressing their fury by asking for ticket refunds for Jeonbuk’s games. Some fans argue that as the top team in the K-League, the club should assume responsibility regardless of its involvement.
Depending on the result of the investigation and the decision by the court, Jeonbuk could face disciplinary action as well as a penalty from the Korea Football Association (KFA).
According to KFA regulations, a club that is involved in bribing K-League referees to rig games could face disciplinary actions such as demotion to the lower league, one year suspension, 10-point deduction on league points, a fine over 100 million won or even expulsion from the league.
At the moment, the top national football body will observe the situation. “If found to be true, Jeonbuk will be punished accordingly,” said a KFA representative.
“Even if it was done by the scout with no approval from the club, since the scout is affiliated with the team, Jeonbuk cannot sidestep disciplinary measures. Jeonbuk can be reprimanded for negligent supervision. Disciplinary committee will decide which measures would be appropriate.”
With elite teams such as Jeonbuk involved in such a case, the prosecutors will expand their investigation to other professional football teams as well as in other sports.?
BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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