Two South Korean players were sentenced to prison by a Singaporean court on Friday for attempting to rig a professional soccer match in the country.
Kim Jae-hong and Jeon Byung-euk, who played for Singapore’s Geylang United in the 2011 season, were given prison sentences in Singapore for attempting to bribe a midfielder and a goalkeeper to throw the game.
Match-rigging has been a major issue in almost all sports in Korea, but this is the first time Korean soccer players have been involved in a scandal abroad.
Kim, 27, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for admitting to conspiring with Jeon and bribing the goalkeeper, according to The Straits Times, a Singaporean daily. Jeon, 24, received a five-month sentence after admitting to conspiring with Kim to bribe a Geylang United Korean midfielder.
The pair approached Geyland United’s goalkeeper Yazid Yasin and midfielder Mun Seung-man, also from Korea, to talk them into losing last Thursday’s game against Malaysia’s Harimau Muda.
According to news reports, Yasin received a call from an unknown number on April 10 and spoke with someone named Andrew ― who is suspected to be South Korean ― and was offered cash to throw the game. Subsequently Yasin was offered 4,000 Singapore dollars ($3,208) upfront and 2,000 Singapore dollars if he succeeded in losing the game.
Local reports speculated that Kim was ordered by a criminal group to fly to Singapore and hand his former teammate Yasin the cash.
After arriving on April 28, Kim met with Jeon in regards to approaching Mun and offering the South Korean midfielder 3,000 Singapore dollars for not scoring goals.
Reports say that shortly after Kim handed the bribe to Yasin, Kim and Jeon were arrested by police officials.
According to The Straits Times, Kim pleaded for forgiveness and leniency.
Jeon told court officials that he would like to stay in Singapore to work, but reports say it is likely that Jeon will be deported after serving his sentence.
Geylang United lost the game on Thursday 2-0. Yasin played the entire match.
Revelations of match-fixing in Korea’s professional soccer league in May 2011 saw the arrest of over 40 active and former players.
By Robert Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org