K-League: Match-fixing scandal a catalyst

SEOUL - South Korean football bosses are hoping to use the embarrassment of a match-fixing scandal as an opportunity to reform their professional K-League.

The government has threatened to shut down the 16-club league after 46 players were arrested earlier this month in relation to attempts to fix 15 matches from June to October last year.

Prosecutors have charged several former players with match-fixing, while 10 active players have been slapped with life bans. A coach was also arrested for attempting to blackmail a player over his part in the scandal.

"The K-League is now suffering scandals, but we are trying tirelessly to overcome the problems. Everyone may perceive many changes are necessary," K-League general secretary An Gi Heon told the Asian Football Confederation website.

"In this regard, the scandal can be an opportunity for us. As you know, the K-League board members have been changed, that means the decision making right has been moved to the club sides. We would like to listen more to the clubs and respect the club's voice."

The league has cancelled its annual All Star match this weekend because of the scandal and replaced it with a charity clinic where top players will train mentally handicapped juniors, Yonhap news reported.

The worst scandal to hit the K-League in its 28 years of existence comes with Asian football in crisis after AFC President Mohammed Bin Hammam was banned for life for bribery by the sport's governing body FIFA last weekend.

Bin Hammam has denied the charges and said he will appeal.

Acting AFC President Zhang Jilong has vowed to crack down on betting-related match-fixing in South Korea and his native China as well as elsewhere on the continent.