SEOUL - The South Korean military side
playing in the country's top flight football league could be
booted out next season as the fallout from an embarrassing
match-fixing scandal continues.
Sangmu Phoenix is made up of professional players doing
their mandatory two years of military service and several have
been caught up in the K-League match-fixing probe.
The team's coach was arrested this week for allegedly
accepting money from the parents of a player to keep quiet about
their son's role in the corruption scandal.
"We're considering leaving Sangmu off the K-League next
season," an official from the military's athletics division told
Yonhap news agency on Wednesday.
"But we're not looking into forcing Sangmu to stop accepting
professional athletes altogether."
South Korea's government has already threatened to shut down
the 16-team league unless it cleans up its act.
The K-League took a cautious approach to Sangmu's future,
saying: "We're not yet at a point where we have to come up with [such punitive] measures."
The most damaging crisis to hit the professional K-League
since it was launched in 1983 deepened last week when 46 players
were arrested in relation to the attempted fixing of 15 matches
from June to October last year.
Prosecutors have also charged 11 brokers, including several
former players, with match-fixing, while 10 players have been
slapped with life bans.
Nine of the players indicted last week were from Sangmu,
surpassing the Daejon Citizen's previous ignominious high of
eight, and they had to play a defender in goal in their 3-2
defeat by FC Seoul at the weekend as their regular goalkeepers
were either arrested or suspended.
South Korean international Choi Sung-kuk has already
confessed to being involved in match-fixing under a K-League
amnesty in return for lighter punishment while in May a player
was found dead in a hotel room, with media reporting a suicide
note was found at the scene linking him with a betting ring.
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