S.Korea to toughen punishment against match-fixing

AFP, Tuesday 8 Nov 2011

South Korea moved Tuesday to impose tougher punishment for match-fixing in sports after a major scandal shook the nation's professional football league earlier this year

The cabinet passed a bill which will impose harsher punishment for fraud in professional sports including football, basketball and baseball, an official of the sports ministry told AFP.

Under the new regulations, players or coaches involved in match-fixing will face fines of up to 50 million won ($45,000), up from the maximum 15 million won now.

Brokers who bribe players or coaches will face imprisonment of up to five years or a maximum fine of 50 million won, up from previous punishments of up to two years in prison or 10 million won in fines.

The bill will revise an existing law which governs the operations of Sports Toto, the only licensed sports lottery in South Korea.

Dozens of people were charged with rigging K-League football games after revelations in May this year that players had taken bribes from betting rings.

The Korean Football Association says that of the 57 people charged in the scandal, 12 have been jailed, 27 were given suspended jail terms or fined and two were found innocent. Trials are ongoing for the remaining 16.

Newspapers say illegal gambling websites, many of them operated by crime rings, have heightened the temptation among players to fix matches.

The scandal took a darker turn with the suicides of a former coach of South Korea's military football club and a 29-year-old midfielder for a third division club.

Police said the deaths were apparently related to their involvement in match-fixing.

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