Seoul police on Thursday raided a marketing company behind a controversy surrounding football star Cristiano Ronaldo's absence in a recent match.
Seoul Suseo Police Station said they raided the office of TheFasta starting around 10 a.m. Thursday. Police are investigating charges of fraud against TheFasta, which organized an exhibition match between Ronaldo's Juventus and a team of K League All-Stars on July 26. On Monday, police placed one unidentified official involved in the controversy on travel ban.
Ronaldo drew the ire of some 66,000 fans at Seoul World Cup Stadium by sitting out the whole match. Juventus said the team benched Ronaldo because of muscle fatigue, but TheFasta argued that the Italian club had contractual obligations to play Ronaldo at least 45 minutes.
Juventus have rejected accusations of breach of contract and countered that they fulfilled all obligations for fans "at the highest possible level." The K League in turn demanded an apology from the Italian champions.
Angry fans have demanded refund for tickets that cost up to 400,000 won ($330) and thousands have signed up to join a class-action suit against TheFasta seeking damages. Other fans have argued that TheFasta has a sketchy background as a sports marketing firm and it was merely trying to pass the buck to Juventus and cover up its own problems.
Separately, a South Korean attorney filed fraud charges against TheFasta, Juventus and Ronaldo last week at Seoul police's cyber investigation unit.
Hours after the raid, TheFasta issued an apology and said it has no intention of shunning any responsibility in the ongoing case.
"We promise you that we'll fully cooperate with the police in their investigation, so that we can clear any concerns and suspicions," the company's statement read. "In order to hold Juventus and other relevant parties accountable, we have hired legal representation and have lodged a complaint with Juventus over their breach of contract." (Yonhap)