2002 World Cup quarterfinalist Choi Tae-wook ‘shocked’ by conspiracy to accept bribes to join protégé’s pro team
Choi Tae-wook (42), who was appointed national team coach in 2018 to assist former national team coach Paulo Bento and helped South Korea reach the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, has been indicted on criminal charges.
According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office’s Criminal Division 9 (Deputy Chief Prosecutor Kim Hyun-ah), Choi faces a charge of embezzlement for allegedly colluding with his agent, Choi Moe, in handing over money to former Ansan FC president Lee Jong-gul and former head coach Lim Jong-heon.
The prosecution believes that there is sufficient criminal activity in Choi’s charges and has requested a formal trial.
The statutory penalty for bribery is up to two years in prison or a fine of up to 5 million won. However, Choi was spared immediate jail time.
Choi is a familiar face in the history of South Korean soccer, and many soccer fans are familiar with his image.
He was part of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup quarterfinal team, and also competed at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
After retiring from the K League 1 Ulsan Hyundai in 2014, he turned to coaching, starting as a youth scout for Ulsan and then as a youth coach for the K League 2 Seoul Eland.
In 2018, he was named national team coach, assisting former national team coach Paulo Bento, and helped South Korea reach the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Choi was removed from the KFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG) on Monday.
The Korea Football Association is also considering what to do with Choi.
“If the prosecutor’s office notifies us of an irregularity, we will look at the indictment and decide whether to convene a tribunal,” said an official from the KFA. “If the tribunal is held, we will listen to the parties’ arguments and then watch the outcome of the trial and decide on the discipline at the association level.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors have handed over the former president of the K League 2 Ansan Greeners FC Lee Jong-gul (61) to trial for allegedly exchanging money with Choi in exchange for getting him to join a professional soccer club.
The prosecution announced on the 13th that it has indicted Lee and Bae Mo, the head of the club’s power enhancement team, on charges including embezzlement.
According to prosecutors, Lee is accused of letting two players join the club from last year to this year and receiving a Benz car, a Rolex watch and cash worth 50 million won from the players’ parents and agent Choi Mo-soo.
He is also accused of receiving 9 million won from former Ansan FC coach Lim Jong-heon (57-indicted) in exchange for his appointment as head coach. Lim was first indicted in July for allegedly receiving 45 million won from Choi in exchange for a job with a professional soccer team 바카라사이트.
Prosecutors confirmed that Choi colluded with former national team coach Choi Tae-wook, 42, in handing over the money to Ansan FC, and the former coach was also indicted on the same day on charges of embezzlement.
Choi was investigated for his past gifts to a player who was trying to join Ansan FC.
The case came to light after prosecutors discovered suspicious money transactions between the two while reviewing Choi’s fraud case, which was dismissed by police in May.
As a result of the investigation, prosecutors found a systematic crime in which agents or players’ parents paid money to their managers in exchange for soccer players joining professional teams, and also paid money to the managers and representatives of the professional teams they would join, and sent a total of 10 people to trial, including Lim.
However, the prosecution did not prosecute players and parents if they could be considered actual victims, considering that they have no choice but to comply with the demands and instructions of agents.
The prosecution recovered the proceeds of the crime through restitution and notified the Korean Football Association of the irregularities.
A prosecution official said, “We will do our best to maintain the prosecution so that the punishment for the defendants who dismiss ‘player trading’ as a practice is commensurate with the crime.”