Police raid office of Juventus tour organiser

SEOUL • South Korean police raided the office of a marketing agency yesterday as part of a fraud investigation into Cristiano Ronaldo's non-appearance in a friendly between Juventus and a K-League selection last month.

The game has become the subject of lawsuits by disgruntled fans after Ronaldo remained on the bench despite promoters saying he was contractually obligated to play at least 45 minutes.

More than 65,000 tickets costing up to US$330 (S$456) had been sold for the July 26 game, which was organised by The Fasta.

The Fasta issued a statement after the raid promising to "fully cooperate with the police in their investigation, so that we can clear any concerns and suspicions".

It also said it has "lodged a complaint with Juventus over their breach of contract". The K-League declined to comment on the police's involvement when asked by The Associated Press.

Earlier this week, police issued a travel ban on an official involved in organising the match, with local media naming the person as The Fasta's chief executive Robin Jang.

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri said after the match that Ronaldo stayed on the bench because of muscle fatigue. But Kang Joon-woo of legal firm Oh Kims Sports, one of several representing fans, said The Fasta should be held responsible for supporters not getting what they paid for.

"The host secured ticket revenues even though the game was not implemented as advertised," Kang said. "It was the organiser's fault that it did not prepare for the situation. It caused the soccer fans to take all the damages. The Fasta ... should be legally liable."

The affair has damaged the reputation of Juventus in South Korea. The K-League has sent a complaint to the two-time European champions, also accusing them of arriving late at the stadium to delay kick-off by almost an hour and cancelling a pre-game autograph session.

In a letter from Juventus, seen by The Associated Press, chairman Andrea Agnelli rejected accusations of wrongdoing and disrespect.

The K-League's reply accused Juventus of "shamelessness" and blatant deception and demanded an apology.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Police raid office of Juventus tour organiser'. Print Edition | Subscribe