China Detained South Korean Soccer Player in Bribery Probe

China has verified the arrest of a South Korean soccer player in connection with a corruption case.

Son Jun-ho, currently a player in the Chinese Super League, is being held by law enforcement in Liaoning province, in northeastern China, as reported by China’s foreign ministry.

The South Korean media disclosed that the 31-year-old was taken into custody at a Shanghai airport last Friday.

The news of Mr. Son’s arrest emerges during a focused effort to eliminate corruption and match-fixing in Chinese soccer.

South Korean diplomats are set to meet with Mr. Son “to figure out exactly what kind of charges” are being levied against him, as per sources reported by Yonhap News Agency.

The South Korean foreign ministry has confirmed that it’s offering consular assistance to Mr. Son through its mission in China, but refrained from giving further details.

In the preceding three months, China has arrested at least four soccer officials due to alleged misconduct.

Mr. Son relocated to China’s Shandong province in 2021 and represented Shandong Taishan as a midfielder.

His team clinched the Chinese Football League – the top tier of professional soccer in China – that same year. Marouane Fellaini, the former Manchester United and Everton midfielder, is among his current teammates.

He has also participated in 20 international games representing his homeland, including in the Fifa World Cup the previous year.

An official from the Korea Football Association reported that they had sought clarification from Shandong Taishan about the incident, but have yet to receive a response.

Allegations of bribery and match-fixing have long tainted Chinese soccer. The recent arrests of notable soccer figures have further hampered the nation’s soccer aspirations.

In February, around the time stadiums were reopening post Covid lockdowns, Chen Xuyuan, the president of the Chinese Football Association, was arrested for suspected “serious violations of discipline and the law”.

The arrest of Mr. Chen marked the fourth instance of a senior soccer official being probed within a three-month period.

Li Tie, a former national coach and one of China’s most renowned soccer players, also faced an investigation last November for “serious violations of the law”.

South Korean soccer has also recently been embroiled in match-fixing scandals.

Just last month, the entire executive board of the Korea’s Football Association stepped down after trying to pardon approximately 100 individuals who had been expelled from the sport due to match-fixing and other infractions.