January 20 – AFC Champions League holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from South Korea have been banned from all Asian Football Confederation competition in 2017, preventing them from being able to defend their title. The sanction carries out the hard stance taken by AFC that it will have a zero tolerance attitude towards any form of match-fixing.
The Korean club were sanctioned for their involvement in the 2013 and 2014 match-fixing and bribery scandals that influenced the outcome of the 2013 and 2014 K League seasons.
The ~AFC said in a statement that: “Such indirect involvement was found to be in contravention of Article 11.8 of the Entry Manual for the AFC Club Competitions 2017-2020. As such, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) were deemed not to have met the sporting criteria to participate in the AFC Champions League 2017.”
Jeonbuk had already been deducted nine points and fined $121,170 by the K League’s disciplinary committee in September for payments a club scout made to referees in 2013. Last May, prosecutors charged two referees in South Korea’s top league with accepting bribes totalling 5 million won ($5,651) from a Jeonbuk Motors club scout, with three payments of 1 million won each ($1,130) made to one official and two to the other.
The scout was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term for bribery by the Busan District Court.
Jeonbuk won the AFC Champions League last November after a 3-2 aggregate win over Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates.
Jeonbuk’s disgrace is Jeju United’s fortune as they move up to the Korea Football Association’s third seed position and automatic entry into the group stages of the competition. Ulsan Hyundai become Korea’s fourth seed and will play int he qualifying matches.
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