By Kim Rahn
A professional footballer was found dead at a hotel in southern Seoul at 1:40 p.m. Monday, in an apparent suicide, sending shock waves through the football circle that has already been reeling from a match-fixing scandal.
A hotel employee found the body of Jung Jong-kwan of Seoul United, a team in the country’s secondary professional football league, who hung himself, and reported it to police.
His death comes several days after at least five players and two brokers have been arrested on charges of manipulating match outcomes in a scam to win through sports betting. Jung was one of the suspects.
A note was found beside the body, which read: “I’m ashamed of myself as a person involved in the match fixing scandal. Those under investigation are all my friends and they haven’t blown my name because of friendship. All is my fault and I got them involved.”
Police presume Jung committed suicide, considering there were no signs of forced entry to the room and there was a written will.
The 30-year-old, who was playing in the Challengers League, the nation’s third division for amateur players, was a midfielder at Jeonbuk Hyundai of the K-League, Korea’s first-division football league, until 2007, contributing to the team’s wining of the AFC Champions League in 2006.
Jung was jailed the next year for the violation of military service law. Since being released, he has played at the current team while doing public service as an alternative to the mandatory military service.
An arrest warrant for him was issued on May 25 on suspicions of connecting players to brokers, but he has been in hiding. Jung and one of the two arrested brokers were on the same football team during their high school days.
Jung’s death came a day after prosecutors in Changwon arrested three players of K-League’s Daejeon Citizen for alleged involvement in match-rigging. The players are suspected to have received bribes to influence the results of their team’s match against the Pohang Steelers in April, which Daejeon lost 3-0.
Kim Dong-hyun, a former national team striker, has also been questioned by investigators for alleged involvement in the wrongdoings.