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Detained soccer player 'denies charges, worried about family': agent

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 19, 2023 - 13:29

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Soccer player Son Jun-ho, who has been detained by Chinese authorities on suspicion of bribery, denies the accusations against him, media here reported Friday, quoting the South Korean midfielder’s agent.

Son, 31-year-old midfielder playing for Chinese Super League’s Shandong Taishan, was taken into custody by public security authorities in China’s northeast Liaoning province last Friday on suspicion of accepting bribes. The details of the charges have not been unveiled as of now, but the Chinese Global Times reported that Son is the first foreign player to be detained in relation to an ongoing anti-corruption investigation of Chinese Football Association figures.

Shandong’s former manager Hao Wei is also being investigated for allegations of match-fixing, according to Chinese reports, along with a number of players and soccer personnel.

Local Nocut News reported that Son’s agent said the player is denying bribery charges or any connection to the match-rigging allegations. According to the agent, Son remains calm but is worried about his family, particularly his children who were present when he was arrested at the airport in Shanghai last week.

Son Jun-ho (Yonhap) Son Jun-ho (Yonhap)

Son’s legal representatives have applied for a meeting with their client, which could take place as early as next week. The Korea Football Association plans to send its high ranking officials and legal expert to China and sent related documents to its Chinese counterpart, to which it had not received a response as of Friday morning.

In a Thursday briefing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the South Korean consulate in Chinese city of Shenyang -- city located in Liaoning -- interviewed Son and found that there were no rights infringement by the Chinese investigators. Officials at the consulate met with Son on Wednesday, after which they delivered a message to his family, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”

The ministry said the specifics of the investigation cannot be revealed. Seoul government plans to continue cooperating with the investigation, which the ministry’s request to the Chinese to be “fair and swift.”

The ministry voiced concerns against speculations that Son’s arrest may affect the Seoul-Beijing relations, saying it was a completely different matter.