South Korea police launch probe into sports fixing, gambling

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean police announced on Tuesday (Sept 8) a formal investigation into match-fixing and illegal gambling by more than two dozen current and former sportsmen, mostly basketball and judo players.

Police said the probe had been triggered by an alleged game-rigging incident in February this year, involving a 29-year-old basketball player - identified only by his surname Kim.

Kim was suspected of helping throw a match by intentionally missing a number of baskets at the request of a fellow gambler and 28-year-old judo player, a police statement said.

Twenty-four other current and retired players - 11 in basketball, 12 in judo and one in wrestling - are also being investigated for alleged gambling on sports fixtures using illegal Internet betting sites, the statement said.

The wagers ranged from just one million won (S$1,190) to hundreds of millions of won.

Local media reported that Kim Seon Hyeong, a star basketball player for SK Knights, was among those being questioned over illegal gambling.

Professional sports in South Korea have been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years, touching football, volleyball, basketball and even motorboat racing.

In 2013, basketball legend and star coach Kang Dong Hee was convicted of match fixing and was permanently banned by the basketball league.

In 2011, prosecutors charged 57 people - 46 current and former players and 11 criminal gang members and bookmakers - with fixing the results of 15 matches in the professional football K-League.

South Korea has tough laws restricting gambling and the government has stepped up a crackdown on illegal Internet betting sites in recent years.