Monday, May 30, 2011

Korea's K-League Under Match Fixing Review

As regular readers of this site may know I currently live and work in Seoul, Korea. Over the past few weeks there have been rumors of match fixing in the Korean K-League that have finally boiled to the surface. Rumblings began in early May after Incheon United's goalkeeper Ki-Won Yoon was found dead in his car from a possible suicide. Unfortunately, South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world and many police cases are treated as such. But now that match fixing has come to light many are believing something more sinster maybe afoot. According to news reports, three players from Daejon Citizens were arrested on Sunday in connection with match fixing. These players are said to have taken between $90,000 and $110,000 to fix a league match against Pohang Steelers this season.

Another player, this time from Gwangju FC, has also been arrest for supposedly taking a bribe of $91,000 to fix a cup match. However, he didn't appear in the match, because he gave up five goals in a previous cup tie that was also supposedly fixed. His club released him shortly after this.

Being a football fan I know this happens all over the world. I also believe FIFA and leagues around Europe routinely fix matches for a preferred winner. For an example, look back at Chelsea v. Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League semi-final. There is no reason Barcelona should have been in the position to score the tie winning goal at the end of that match. The reason for Barca to go through was simply UEFA and FIFA didn't want a Chelsea v. Manchester United final two years in a row. Not to mention United and Barca are the two biggest draws in world football.

Being a fan of football and the K-League I am upset. I am a season ticket holder to FC Seoul and I have spent many fantastic Saturdays and Sundays at Seoul World Cup Stadium. I'm afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg, however, and more players will be named soon.

As of writing this, one of Jeonbuk FC's players who has been caught up in match fixing has been found dead due to an apparent suicide today.

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