K-League Demotes Military-Affiliated Club

September 13, 2012

Korea’s professional football league, the K-League, has relegated the military-affiliated Sangju Sangmu Pheonix to the second division for next season for failing to meet international club standards

With Sangju’s demotion, only one of the eight teams in the bottom half of the league’s split system will be relegated to the second-tier National League at the end of the season.

The qualifications the league referred to in its rulings is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regulation on club licensing that requires a club to be a “legal entity” ensuring “financial and sporting success in the league.”

There are also issues over contracts, as players do not sign with Sangmu, but play on the team while fulfilling mandatory military service.

A K-League official said: “We can’t leave a team unable to meet the qualifications for a professional club in the league”

Sangju Sangmu Pheonix may boycott its remaining matches this season. The club’s General Manager, Lee Jae-cheol, said: “The Armed Forces Athletic Corps and the Defense Ministry held talks today, and we’ve decided not to play the rest of the season. We just don‘t have the motivation to play out the season. The ministry is adamant about this.”

The AFC stipulates that all professional players must have a written contract with their clubs. Sangmu players are technically under contracts with their original K-League teams because they are only playing for Sangmu to fulfill their mandatory military service requirement.

Sangmu players receive the same monthly wages as other conscripted soldiers, about US$73 for privates and US$96 for sergeants. The players also receive bonus payments for each victory, goal, assist and hat-trick.{jcomments on}