World football's governing body FIFA has extended worldwide the life bans of 41 South Korean players after a 2011 domestic league match-fixing scandal. The case highlights global concern over football match-fixing.
FIFA's Disciplinary Committee announced their decision Wednesday, extending the bans previously agreed to by Korea's K-League and the Korea Football Association.
A further 21 players who admitted their part in the match-fixing scandal and expressed "grave regret" will be allowed to return to the sport after a probation period of between two and five years. Before the players can return, they must perform 200 to 500 hours of football-related community service, including coaching youth and disabled players.
"The probation is voluntary, which means that the respective player has to inform the K-League that he wishes to return to football," said FIFA.
In 2011 some 50 players and coaches from six K-League sides, along with 11 criminal gang members, were charged with taking money to rig 15 games in 2010. Two players and a former coach took their own lives in the ensuing scandal.
Match-fixing has been a major problem in world football. The Italian and Turkish leagues, as well as the national teams of Guatemala, Nicaragua and South Africa have all been embroiled in recent scandals.
FIFA says match-fixing is usually organized by illegal gambling rings who win money by betting on the results of matches they are manipulating, often with the help of players and referees.
dr/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)