South Korea declares “state of emergency” on match-fixing

(Reuters) – South Korea has declared a “state of emergency” against match-fixing allegations tarnishing a number of domestic sports leagues and has issued a package of measures aimed at tackling sports-related corruption.

The allegations that led the investigation of dozens of players and officials in the domestic soccer league last year have since spread to South Korea’s professional baseball and volleyball competitions.

“We believe the recent turn of events has created a state of emergency that threatens to shake the foundation of sports,” Yonhap news agency quoted South Korea’s sports minister Choe Kwang-shik as saying yesterday.

“We didn’t just want stop-gap measures, but we wanted to take comprehensive steps for fair and transparent playing environments.

“Match fixing isn’t just a problem for some sports; it is clearly a criminal act that turns the whole world of sports into an act of fraud against the people.

“To root this out, it’s important for the government, relevant agencies, players and coaches to have the will and determination to act.”

Authorities would take a “no mercy” approach to players involved in match-fixing, but professional clubs would also be held accountable for protecting players from exposure to rigging or other corrupt practices,” Choe said.

“We will require pro teams to hold four seminars a year on preventing match fixing,” he said. “We will raise the financial reward for people who report on corruption and clearly outline responsibilities for coaches and teams.” Under a recently revised law on sports promotion, players or coaches who took part in fixing schemes would be sentenced to up to five years or pay up to 50 million won ($44,500) in fines, Yonhap said.
Their teams would also face expulsion from their leagues.

The government would reduce penalties for those who report themselves for attempting to fix matches, however, Choe said. The government would look to increase athletes’ minimum salaries and expand their welfare benefits, so that they would be “less tempted” to take bribes to throw matches. Gvernment-appointed “supervisors” would also monitor professional sports matches to ensure no fixing was in place, according to the report, without providing details.
Government agencies would also crack down on illegal sports betting sites.
($1 = 1,123.42 won)

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