There are penalties handed out for match-fixing scandals, and then there are the massive penalties handed out by the Korea Football Association on Wednesday.
From Paul Gorst of Goal.com:
The Korea Football Association (KFA) has given a lifetime ban to 41 players after a match-fixing scandal.
The enquiry by the K-League and Korean FA dates back to the summer of 2011, with over three dozen players found to have been involved in the fixing.
The world governing body Fifa has also extended the ban to apply worldwide, meaning no player caught up in the scandal can transfer overseas.
However, as many as 21 of the players turned themselves in to officials during the investigation, and they have now been offered the chance to return to the game following a probation that is believed to be between two and five years.
Quite frankly, this is pretty crazy. How often do you see 41 players getting a lifetime ban from a sport, across the world? Oh, I'm sorry, 21 of those players might be able to return to the game... in two to five years!
Yes, all of those italicized words were necessary.
Match-fixing is one of the biggest issues in sports, period, but it seems to rear its ugly head more frequently in soccer.
The South African Football Association is currently investigating matches that were allegedly fixed during the 2010 World Cup warm-up matches, while it remains one of the biggest blights in Italian football.
Rarely do you see bans composed of this scope, however.
Match-fixing, shaving points or simply altering the outcome of games is nothing new in sports, of course. It has a long and infamous history in the sport of boxing. The NBA was rocked when referee Tim Donaghy was embroiled in a sports-betting scandal.
But fixing games seems to hold a special place in the hearts of seedier soccer players, and alongside the racism of certain groups of fans, is easily the biggest issue the sport faces today.
Clearly, the Korea FA and FIFA have taken a strong stand and made and sent an unmistakable message with these bans and punishments. Here's to hoping those who might think of fixing matches will take note.
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