South Korea’s Son Jun-ho, who plays in the Chinese Super League, is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes, officials said.
South Korean midfielder Son Jun-ho has been detained in China’s northeastern Liaoning province on suspicion of accepting bribes, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday that Son was taken into custody “recently” and was being investigated. The South Korean consulate in the provincial capital of Shenyang was informed of Son’s detention and allowed access to the player as required by the international agreement.
Son plays for Shandong Taishan in the Chinese Super League. Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post said the bribery allegations were related to suspected match-fixing involving coach Hao Wei.
“China is a country governed by the rule of law and handles related cases in accordance with the law to protect all the legitimate rights and interests of the parties involved,” Wang told a news briefing.
Wang did not provide details on the time or conditions of Son’s detention, but the Post said he was arrested at an airport with his family on Friday while preparing to leave the country.
Lim Soo-suk, a spokesman for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said his government provided the Son with “necessary consular assistance” through local missions in the country. He did not provide further details about Son’s condition, citing privacy reasons.
Chinese football has struggled for years to shake off a reputation for corruption among coaches, team owners, players, referees and government sports officials.
The league recently restarted after being shut down under pandemic restrictions, teams are in dire financial straits and nearly a dozen high-profile figures have been arrested on corruption allegations, including former national men’s coach Li Tie.
That comes despite a pledge by ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to invest heavily to make China a football superpower. The drive has largely fallen flat, with the national men’s team ranked 81st in the world and professional teams relying heavily on expensive foreign players to attract audiences- well
Son, 31, played seven seasons with South Korea’s Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors before joining Shandong Taishan in 2021 on a four-year contract, according to industry website transfermarket.com. He has played for South Korea 18 times, including last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
An official of the Korea Football Association said it reached out to Shandong Taishan, asking for an explanation, but did not hear back.
His club has not commented publicly on Son’s condition, but uploaded a poster wishing him a happy birthday on Friday, the day of his imprisonment.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing a diplomatic source, that Son “was questioned by public security authorities in Liaoning province while in custody”.