Asian champs face ban for match-fixing

AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa presenting Jeonbuk's captain Kwoun Sun Tae with the trophy after the Korean club beat the UAE's Al-Ain 3-2 on aggregate in last month's final.
AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa presenting Jeonbuk's captain Kwoun Sun Tae with the trophy after the Korean club beat the UAE's Al-Ain 3-2 on aggregate in last month's final.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Jeonbuk may be suspended for a year by new body which reviews tournament eligibility

KUALA LUMPUR • Asian title-holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors could be banned from next year's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League over a match-fixing scandal.

Jeonbuk, who lifted the Asian trophy last month, were punished for match-fixing in South Korea's K-League in September.

As such, they face a possible one-year ban by a new five-member eligibility body, which was unveiled yesterday.

The AFC said the independent Entry Control Body, led by China's Liu Chi, will make decisions based on a new document - Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions - which sets out rules for eligibility.

Any clubs involved in "arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level" will be barred from the Asian elite club competition for one season, the document says.

  • S$120k

  • Jeonbuk were fine 100 million won (S$120,000) and docked nine points after one of their scouts was convicted of bribing referees during the 2013 season.

"The AFC has zero tolerance towards match manipulation and has done more than many other bodies to tackle that threat to sport," AFC general secretary Windsor John said in a statement announcing the new body.

"We are also determined to protect the sporting integrity of our competitions, which are regarded as some of the best in the world."

According to Fox Sports Asia, this Entry Control Body was set up by the governing body for Asian football following recommendations from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Lausanne-based organisation had, earlier in the year, over-ruled the AFC's decision to throw Phnom Penh Crown out of the AFC Cup, which is one rung below the Asian Champions League.

The Cambodian giants, who have won a record six domestic league titles, had been caught up in a case that involved allegations of match-fixing.

Asia's football authorities have long struggled against match-fixing, with major scandals seen in a swathe of countries including South Korea and China.

In September, K-League leaders Jeonbuk were docked nine points and fined 100 million won (S$120,000) after one of their scouts was convicted of bribing referees during the 2013 season.

As a result, Jeonbuk narrowly missed out on the Korean title, but beat United Arab Emirates' Al Ain 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League final to lift the trophy.

The eligibility body will also rule on clubs suspected of "violation of rules relating to control or influence", and will make sure football associations nominate the correct clubs to play in Asian competitions.

Over the past month, Hong Kong has been hit by in-fighting over which team should play in next year's Asian Champions League after the domestic title winners, Eastern, expressed doubt about taking part.

Eastern ultimately retained their place in next year's Champions League, when they will make history by taking part while helmed by a female coach, Chan Yuen Ting, a tournament first.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Asian champs face ban for match-fixing'. Print Edition | Subscribe