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Players retract All-Star game boycott

An association of professional baseball players said Friday its members will participate in the All-Star game, retracting an earlier threat to boycott the festive event in protest against the league’s delay of expansion.

The decision came after the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association received assurances from the Korea Baseball Organization that it would work toward expanding the league to 10 teams.

The annual All-Star Game this year is scheduled for July 21 in Daejeon.

“The association has decided to participate in the All-Star Game for our fans’ sake, believing KBO’s will to get a 10th club launched this year,” KPBPA Director General Park Choong-sik said in a news conference.

The KPBPA threatened on June 25 to boycott the game to protest nine team presidents’ decision to put off the expansion indefinitely. Former baseball coaches and players followed suit, issuing a statement strongly supporting the association.

Facing growing public criticism, the team presidents turned around Tuesday asking the league’s governing body to make a plan to create a new club and implement it as planned. KBO pledged to call a board meeting shortly after the championship series in October to discuss approval of a 10th team, the association said.

Last year, KBO team presidents approved the ninth club with a schedule to introduce it in the next season after a year in the minors. Baseball players and officials have called for a 10th team to avoid headaches in game scheduling. Opponents have countered that expansion would downgrade the quality of baseball, citing a shallow pool of high school players.

So far, two regional governments, Suwon in Gyeonggi Province and Jeonju in North Jeolla Province, have expressed a desire to host the 10th club.

By Chun Sung-woo (swchun@heraldcorp.com)
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