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Korean soccer players suspended for 1 game, fined W15m for allegedly racist comments

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : June 22, 2023 - 18:53

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Ulsan Hyundai FC soccer players accused of posting racist comments, one of which referenced Thai player Sasalak Haiprakhon, await the K-League disciplinary committee's decision on Wednesday in Seoul. (Yonhap) Ulsan Hyundai FC soccer players accused of posting racist comments, one of which referenced Thai player Sasalak Haiprakhon, await the K-League disciplinary committee's decision on Wednesday in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Three Korean soccer players with Ulsan Hyundai FC were suspended for one game and fined 15 million won ($11,500) each on Thursday for posting allegedly racist comments online.

A disciplinary committee under the Korea Professional Football League announced their decision to punish Ulsan defender Lee Myung-jae and his teammates Lee Gyu-sung and Park Yong-woo for posting allegedly racist comments on social media, one of which referenced Thai player Sasalak Haiprakhon earlier this month.

This marks the first time K-League players have been punished for alleged racism since the league's launch in 1983.

Ulsan Hyundai FC was fined a separate 30 million won over the matter.

The comments in question were posted on Lee Myung-jae's Instagram page earlier this month.

In the comment section of a photo uploaded by Lee Myung-jae of himself, Lee Gyu-sung left a comment jokingly calling Lee Myung-jae a "Southeast Asian" in an apparent reference to his darker skin tone. Park Yong-woo also commented, calling Lee Myung-jae "Sasalak," referring to the Thai player.

Haiprakhon, who currently plays as a wingback for Thailand's Buriram United and the Thai national team, used to play for the K-League 1 club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2021.

The players' comments drew heavy public criticism after fans sceencaptured them and shared the images in online communities, calling them racist.

Lee Myung-jae later deleted the post, while Park issued an apology on his own Instagram page.