February 3 – AFC Champions League holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have not been cleared to defend their title. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected the club’s request for ‘provisional measures’ to allow the club back into the 2017 competition following it January 18 sanction for historic match-fixing.
Jeonbuk were banned 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.
In issuing its decision on the Jeonbuk bribery scandals, the AFC said 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.
The AFC has taken an increasingly hard line on match-fixing and in a statement following the CAS decision said that it “notes the decision, as it is the utmost priority for the AFC to protect the integrity and image of its competitions.”
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