The latest match fixing scandal to hit soccer has rocked one of Asia’s highest profile leagues. Korea’s K-League has seen six players arrested along with two gambling brokers with charges related to fixing games in exchange for sizable amounts of money. It comes in the same week that the country that invented soccer corruption, Italy, saw another high profile case come out.
K-League players were reportedly offered around $100,000 to fix matches and three of those accused come from struggling club, Daejeon Citizen. One of the games under investigation is between them and Pohang Steelers in the country’s league Cup on April 6. They lost the game 3-0.
This was followed by the suicide of Jeong Jong-Kwan, who admitted to being involved in match-fixing schemes, before Pohang Steeler Kim Jung-Kyum was fired for betting on one of their games.
Kim Donh-Hyun of Sangju Sangmu became the sixth player to be embroiled in the scandal, a man who has appeared for the national team for six occasions. For the moment, to try and combat the corruption, K-League general secretary Ahn Ki-Heon explained, “From June 1 to 13, we will receive reports on match-fixing from any player. For those who confess in this period, we will ask for a favourable arrangement with prosecutors.”
Meanwhile, the league’s chief executive Chung Mong-Gyu said, “Even at the cost of suffering from ‘cutting our own flesh,’ we must remove anything that degrades the spirit of football,” Chung said, describing it as the league’s worst crisis. “To retain the reputation of the K-League, I will make all possible efforts to eradicate any rigging of games and illegal betting.”
One problem stems from the fact that there’s only one licensed and regulated operator in the country, Sports Toto, and that service imposes a limit of 100,000 won ($93). It means the unregulated and unlicensed markets are worth an estimated 4 trillion won ($3.7bn).
FIFA, that launched its own anti-match fixing unit in collaboration with Interpol, have been alerted and Korea will hope to stamp this out as soon as is possible.