Seoul: Local sports leagues marred by match fixing will have their games suspended or taken off the national sports lottery as part of the South Korea government`s response to a recent football match fixing scandal, a senior sports official said.
Park Sun-kyoo, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, said the enforcement ordinance for the law on national sports promotion will be revised, so that punishments for match fixing will include suspension or removal of games from Sports Toto, which operates the only licensed sports lottery in the country.
Clubs receive portions of proceeds from sales of lottery tickets, and this measure will deal a heavy financial blow to guilty parties.
The ordinance could take effect sometime in the latter half of this year, Park said.
"Match fixing is a mortally unfair act that can never be accepted under any circumstances," said Park at a press conference.
"No matter how painful the process will be, we will try to resolve all the problems.
"The announcement came amid a widening match fixing scandal involving local professional football. Five players from the first-division K-League have been arrested for allegedly accepting money from brokers and offering to help throw matches in exchange.”
Prosecutors have reportedly questioned other players and coaches for their possible connection with match fixing schemes.
The five arrested players are likely to be indicted this week.
Park said players and coaches implicated in match fixing will be disciplined immediately following the prosecution`s investigation.
Indicted or convicted players will receive lifetime bans and their clubs will lose points from standings, Park said.
The vice minister added the revised ordinance will apply to other major sports in the country, covering baseball, football, volleyball, basketball and golf.
"We all feel that this is clearly a crisis (for sports in South Korea)," Park said.
"We will try to use this occasion to start anew and take the next step.”
"The government will also toughen punishments for illegal gambling on sports.”
Currently, illegal sports gambling can result in up to three years in prison or a maximum 15 million won fine. Under the government plan, the penalty will be up to seven years in jail or a maximum 70 million won fine, depending on violations.
By definition, illegal sports betting covers purchasing illegal lottery tickets, starting illegal betting Web sites, or paying players in match fixing schemes.
Park also said the government will tighten its monitoring on sales of Sports Toto tickets and will install closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems at major retail outlets.
The vice minister said it`s ultimately up to the people in sports to handle the issue.
"I realise these aren`t perfect measures, nor are they final," Park said.
"We will adjust and improve them as we go along."