The Korean Basketball League is bruised following a match-fixing scandal, requiring bold remedies.
Kang Dong-hee, 47, head coach of Wonju Dongbu Promy, has been summoned by the prosecution over his alleged acceptance of money in exchange for fixing matches. Kang strongly denies the allegations but the prosecution has already arrested a broker who claims to have delivered money to him. The investigation may expand to other teams.
Fixing matches is hardly news in local professional sports. The KBL is just the latest league to be humiliated by a match-fixing scandal, following the football, baseball and volleyball leagues.
“We are deeply concerned and looking into allegations of intentional losses. We will fully cooperate with the investigation and take stern measures,” the KBL said in a statement on Tuesday. The league is agonizing over how to minimize the shock and prevent fans from deserting the team.
However, fans seem to be indifferent, as if the scandal is no surprise at all. Rumors of match throwing have never ceased among sports gamblers.
The league deserves the blame for being imperceptive to match fixing. When the local governing body of amateur basketball was criticized over match throwing last year, the pro league looked on as an idle spectator. In 2006, a professional player was fined for telling one of his fans to buy certain basketball lottery tickets.
The KBL is also troubled by the declining number of spectators. Basketball currently lags behind volleyball in TV ratings. The match-fixing scandal could strike a knockout blow to a KBL already in crisis. If wrongdoing is proved, the league should take pains to remove the rot with stern measures, including lifetime bans.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org