Ronaldo controversy continuesPolice announced Monday that they have placed a travel ban on an official involved in organizing the exhibition match between Italian football club Juventus FC and the K League All-Stars, which spurred controversy after football star Cristiano Ronaldo failed to play during the game.
“This case is not just an accusation but an investigation requested by the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation,” said police. “We launched an investigation right away and placed a travel ban on a suspect.”
A Seoul police officer told reporters that two other suspects from the K League, Korea’s professional football governing body, have been questioned.
Police did not identify the person under the travel ban.
Some 65,000 fans showed up for the exhibition match that was held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in western Seoul on July 26, which had high-priced tickets that went up to 400,000 won ($328).
Tickets sales alone are estimated to have amounted to six billion won. However, many fans with high hopes of seeing Ronaldo in action were left disappointed when he was benched for the entire game.
MyungAn, a local law firm based in Suwon, Gyeonggi, that is planning on suing TheFasta, the agency responsible for the event with Juventus, for fraud, posted on its blog that the agency, “actively promoted the sale of high-priced tickets based off the information that Ronaldo would play for over 45 minutes.”
Several law firms are also joining the action against TheFasta, by representing plaintiffs and demanding that they receive reimbursement for the costly tickets they purchased.
According to the K League, the contract between Juventus and TheFasta stated that Ronaldo would play for at least 45 minutes during the match and hold an autograph session.
Other stipulations included that Juventus’ roster would be made up of at least 70 percent of top division players, as well as a match time and additional events.
Juventus violated most of the agreed terms in the contract, which also listed the penalties for violations.
In an interview with local broadcaster SBS on July 28, TheFasta CEO Robin Jang claimed the fault was on Juventus for breaching their contract.
Jang told SBS that she heard that Ronaldo would not be playing in the match 10 minutes into its second-half and that there was little her company could do to force the player to join the game in spite of the contract.
The only sanctions provision in the contract was that Juventus would have to pay several hundred million won, she said.
Juventus, on the other hand, rejected the South Korean side’s accusation of a breach of contract and stressed that they fulfilled all obligations for fans “at the highest possible level.” The Italian club cited Ronaldo’s muscle fatigue as the reason for the benching.
However, contradictory to the club’s explanation, an Instagram post uploaded by the football star upon his return to Italy on July 27 showed him on a treadmill, further angering Korean fans.
OhKims Law & Company, another local law firm, is preparing a damages lawsuit against TheFasta and is looking into suing Jang for fraud, according to a press release from the firm.
Members of an online community formed to take legal action against organizations involved in the exhibition game protested in front of the Korea Football Association (KFA) headquarters in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Monday.
In a press conference that day, the members and their legal representatives demanded the KFA make public the information related to the case and take full responsibility.
Along with TheFasta, football fans are claiming that the KFA is also responsible for the outcome of the exhibition match as the organization was directly involved in the event.
BY LEE JI-YOUNG, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]