WKBL bans ‘overseas Korean’ player for life

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WKBL bans ‘overseas Korean’ player for life

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Chelsey Lee

The Korean women’s professional basketball league decided Tuesday to ban its regulation that allows a foreigner with Korean parents or grandparents, also known as an “overseas Korean,” to play on a team. This comes after the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office accused player Chelsey Lee of fabricating her birth certificate as well as that of her father to play in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) as an overseas Korean.

The prosecutors’ office said last month that Lee, an American-born basketball player who played for Bucheon KEB-Hana Bank last year, was suspected of forging documents to allow her to play as an overseas Korean. An overseas Korean can join a WKBL team regardless of the foreign player quota, which allows only two foreign players per team.

As a follow-up, the WKBL held a board of directors meeting Tuesday to review a possible penalty for Lee.

Lee allegedly submitted a birth certificate for a man she said is her father but the man doesn’t exist. Also, the certificate itself is in an outdated format. Although the death certificate of Lee’s alleged grandmother is valid, it has been confirmed that the person isn’t related to Lee.

After the board of directors meeting, the women’s pro basketball governing body decided to permanently expel Lee. The body also stripped Lee of the awards she won in the league last year, including the rookie of the year award. The body penalized the team heavily, recording all 35 games last season as forfeitures thus placing the team at the bottom of the league for last season. The team also was given the last pick for the rookie draft as well as foreign player draft for next season. Finally, the WKBL decided to abolish the regulation that enables overseas Koreans to play in the WKBL under the same condition as a domestic player to prevent a recurrence of similar events.

Hana Bank also took a dramatic measure to assume responsibility, with Chang Seung-chul, the owner of the franchise, stepping down from his post.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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