South Korean World Cup star Son Jun-ho has been arrested in connection with a bribery case. Son who is China-based and was part of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, was arrested on Friday, his 31st birthday, in Shenyang, a Korean embassy official said on Monday. It is unclear what charges have been pressed against him.
Son and other Shandong players had been questioned about match-fixing allegations surrounding their head coach, Hao Wei, the Yonhap News Agency reported. The football star represents the South Korean national team and Shandong Taishan, a Chinese Super League team based in the Shandong area in the northeast.
Arrested and Being Investigated
Son is being held by the Liaoning Public Security Department in relation to a case of bribery, a representative of the South Korean consulate general in Shenyang said.
The official who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, said that the embassy had contacted Son's family and demanded a meeting with him as soon as possible.
The representative made no further comments.
On the day he was arrested, Shandong Taishan issued a message on its official Weibo account wishing him a happy birthday. However, the club has not officially commented on his arrest and the bribery allegations.
"The public security authorities in China's Liaoning Province are investigating Son in detention. Through the interview, we will find out what [Son] needs and confirm whether there were any human rights violations while in detention," the official from the Consulate General in Shenyang said on Monday.
When questioned about Son on Monday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said that he was unaware of the matter.
Detention Still Unclear
As of now, nothing is clear about the exact reason behind Son's arrest. The investigation comes amid a nationwide investigation to eradicate match-fixing and misconduct in the sport.
The 31-year-old center midfielder was a member of South Korea's 26-man World Cup roster in 2022 and made three substitute appearances as the East Asian team was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Son, who was named the K League's most valuable player in 2020, competes in club football for Shandong Taishan of the Super League in China.
Son, a three-time K League 1 champion with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, moved to Shandong Taishan for the 2021 season and made 21 appearances as Taishan Dui won its first championship in more than 10 years.
He was selected for the 2022 World Cup for his commanding performances in the center of midfield, and he made two cameo appearances from the bench as South Korea placed second behind Portugal in Group H.
In the quarterfinals, the Asian team faced off against five-time champions Brazil, with Son playing the entire second half as they lost the match.