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Lifetime soccer bans for Korean players involved in match-fixing scandal

January 9, 2013 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
FIFA has imposed worldwide lifetime bans on 41 Korean players on charges of match-fixing
FIFA has imposed worldwide lifetime bans on 41 Korean players on charges of match-fixing
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA imposes a worldwide lifetime ban from football on 41 players from Korean Republic
  • Soccer's governing body extends domestic ban imposed by Korea Football Association
  • FIFA offer 21 players who handed themselves in a chance of returning to football
  • Recent match-fixing incidents have occurred in Italy and South Africa

(CNN) -- FIFA has imposed a worldwide lifetime ban from football on 41 players from Korea who became embroiled in match-fixing activities in their domestic league.

In another episode that underlines the fight soccer faces to rid the sport of corruption, the game's governing body extended a ban handed down by the Korea Football Association (KFA) in 2011.

Of those 41 players, FIFA have offered 21 who handed themselves in voluntarily a chance to return to the sport after a probationary period of between two and five years.

The charges relate to match-fixing in Korea's domestic K-League competition and in all but one case were centered on offering or accepting bribes to throw matches.

Read: Players' union to launch match-fixing hotline

These latest sanctions add to a further 10 worldwide bans imposed on players from Korea in June last year.

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A FIFA spokesman told CNN: "The K-League first issued the sanctions, which were then extended by the KFA in summer of 2011 to have national scope, and then subsequently FIFA extended them to have worldwide effect.

"FIFA announced 10 sanctions in June 2012 having received the case files from the KFA, and a further 41 Tuesday. There could still be further cases to follow, but we're not in a position at the moment to make any guess on numbers.

"Of the 51 cases, only one was for betting, whereas all the others were either for giving, or accepting bribes to fix matches.

"Of these 51 cases, 15 went to an appeal and an additional three persons (two players and one coach) committed suicide during the course of the investigations.

"Some of the 51 people involved have also been the subject of criminal proceedings in Korea, including jail sentences."

Soccer has been grappling with cases of match-fixing in recent years with Italian prosecutors conducting a wide-ranging investigation into some of Serie A's most high-profile clubs.

Napoli were hit with a two-point penalty that dropped them from third to fifth in Serie A as part of the ongoing probe, though they vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Their defender Paolo Cannavaro is appealing his six-month ban for failing to report an illegal approach.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte recently returned from a 10-match touchline ban imposed for failing to report match-fixing while coach at Siena.

In 2006, Juve were stripped of two league titles and relegated to the third division of Italian football -- before later being reinstated in the second tier -- for their part in the "Calciopoli" scandal.

Read: Napoli hit by match-fixing related points deduction

Elsewhere, the president of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and four other officials were suspended in December as part of an investigation into match-fixing ahead of the country hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

Of the 51 (total) cases, only one was for betting, whereas all the others were either for giving, or accepting bribes to fix matches
FIFA spokesman

It is alleged four friendly games were prearranged for the benefit of convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his Football 4U organization.

In response to this threat on soccer's integrity FIFPro, the worldwide players' union, recently announced a project to tackle fixing that will include an education program and an online tool for their members to report illegal approaches.

FIFPro have European Union funding behind their 'Don't Fix It' scheme and will be working closely with Birkbeck University and European soccer's governing body UEFA.

The initiative will be launched in nine countries: England, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Scotland and Slovenia.

The 21 Korean players who handed themselves in voluntarily will also be required to put themselves forward for community service if they decide they want to return to the game.

A statement on FIFA's website explained: "These services include the provision of coaching classes for local football clubs for youth and adult players; involvement in and support of football for those with disabilities; and the support of ongoing and future domestic anti-match-fixing activities.

"Players who are subject to voluntary probation may produce monthly reports on their respective community service activities, accompanied by documentary evidence of their activity (written, photographic or video).

"The reinstatement of the respective player in football after the probation period will only be decided by the Korea Football Association (KFA)."

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