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South Korean soccer league in crisis amid match-fixing scandal

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Ahn Young-joon/AP

(Read caption) South Korea' Park Chu-young (l.) fights for the ball with Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov to score the first goal as Serbia's goalkeeper Bojan Saranov (r.) watches during their friendly soccer match at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, on June 3. South Korea's professional soccer league has fallen into crisis of a match-fixing scandal.

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It had enjoyed a near squeaky-clean reputation. South Korea's top professional soccer division's biggest challenge was its failure to convince more of the soccer loving South Korean paying public that Korean's professional teams were up to par with international clubs and that they should move away from their TVs in favor of buying a ticket for a professional game.

That seems minor now after the K-League was plunged into the murky depths of a match-fixing scandal.

Five professional players and two suspected brokers were arrested in connection with the unraveling rigging allegations. They are likely to be indicted this week. A sixth player apparently committed suicide as investigators started a probe into the extent of the claims.

According to authorities, the professional players were betting their own money on the outcome of games online. One report says the rigging may have been linked to crime gangs operating both in South Korea and China.

Jeong Jong-kwan, a Seoul United midfielder who allegedly was a go-between for match-fixing brokers and K-League players, was found after apparently hanging himself. According to reports, a note found beside his body read: "I’m ashamed of myself as a person involved in the match fixing scandal. Those under investigation are all my friends and they haven’t blown my name because of friendship. All is my fault and I got them involved."

Mr. Jeong was the second player to take his own life after former Incheon United goalkeeper Yoon Ki-won was found dead in his car in an earlier apparent suicide.

In an effort to weed out corruption, K-League officials have announced that players who came out before June 13 with details of match-fixing would be treated leniently.


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