The list of 22 national soccer players who will compete at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games was announced on Thursday. The list was submitted to the Asian Olympic Committee the next day.

Seongnam FC’s Lee Sang-min, who was caught driving under the influence of alcohol in May 2020 while playing for Chungnam Asan FC. He had traveled to a game without informing his team and later came under fire for doing so. At the time, the Korean Professional Football Association suspended him for 15 official K League matches and fined him 4 million won, and on August 5, 2020, he was sentenced to 5 million won in fines for violating the Road Traffic Act.

Naturally, public opinion exploded when a player with a history of disciplinary and criminal penalties for drunk driving was selected for the national team. The KFA responded by saying that Lee had already been disciplined and served his sentence, and had been selected for the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup.카지노

After the clarification, the KFA suddenly announced on the 18th that it was removing Lee from the national team. This was due to Lee’s history of drunk driving, which the KFA found to be in violation of its rules.

The KFA has created and follows the ‘Regulations for the Management of the National Football Team’ to determine the composition, operation, and management of the national football team at each level under its control. According to these regulations, the national teams are divided into (1) the adult national team (A team), (2) the under-23 national team (U-23 team), (3) the under-20 national team (U-20 team), and (4) the under-17 national team (U-17 team) for men and women, respectively (Article 3, Paragraph 1).

The selection and release of players shall be approved by the National Strength and Conditioning Committee upon the recommendation of the head coach, and the authority to select and release players may be exercised by the head coach in accordance with a contract with the head coach (Article 4(1)). When selecting players for each level, the head coach shall continue to observe domestic and international leagues to maximize the team’s performance and select players who can implement the head coach’s strategies and tactics and show the best performance (Article 4(2)).

However, the regulation lists 10 disqualifying reasons why a player, no matter how good he is, cannot be selected for the national team (Article 17, paragraph 4). This includes Lee Sang-min. Anyone who has been punished under Article 148(2) of the Road Traffic Act (including those whose sentence has been executed) for an act related to drunk driving, and (a) has not been sentenced to a fine of 5 million won or more and three years have not passed since the sentence was finalized, or (b) has not been sentenced to a fine of less than 5 million won and two years have not passed since the sentence was finalized, is ineligible for the national team (Article 17(4)(9)). The period of ineligibility is longer if the offender was sentenced to imprisonment or probation rather than a fine (Article 17(4)(1) and (2)). The KFA added a provision for national team ineligibility for those who were fined for driving under the influence of alcohol around May 2021, stating in the bylaws that it “applies to those who were punished after June 25, 2019.

Seongnam FC’s Lee Sang-min (left). Photo: KFA

According to the above rule, Lee Sang-min is subject to the national team ineligibility rule as he was criminally punished for drunk driving after June 25, 2019. In particular, the fine of 5 million won was finalized on August 5, 2020, so his national team ineligibility period will not end until at least August 5, 2023. By overlooking this, the KFA chose a player who was ineligible for the national team.

The problem is, this isn’t the first time this has happened. The KFA selected Lee Sang-min for the U-22 national team in 2021, the U-23 national team in 2022, and the U-24 national team in 2023. While the organization continued to select players who were ineligible for the national team, it appears that the organization was completely unaware.

The KFA acknowledged its administrative inexperience, saying that because the players were in K League 2, the information was not as well known as in K League 1 or the A team, so it was not able to properly review the relevant regulations in relation to this fact. The organization said that it would take measures such as checking disciplinary history before finalizing the roster. However, it is questionable whether there was a disciplinary history check during the selection process, considering that the suspension or unexpired discipline was already a disqualifying factor. In this case, if the disciplinary history of the players to be selected for the national team had been checked, the drunk driving could have been checked. It is common knowledge that driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense, so checking the athlete’s criminal record would have revealed whether or not the athlete should be disqualified.

After the final list is submitted to the Asian Olympic Committee, there must be a special reason, such as an injury, to replace an athlete, which is not the case in this case. The most basic and fundamental criterion for national team selection is that the player must not be ineligible. The South Korean national soccer team overlooked this obvious criterion and will lose a player to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.

Attorney Han Min-hee (44th Judicial Training Center)

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