- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2011

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - South Korea’s soccer association has handed down lifetime bans to 10 players charged over alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

The K-League made the announcement in a statement late Friday after holding a meeting of its disciplinary committee. The league said that the bans were its highest level of punishment.

Among those banned for life was Kim Dong-hyun of military club Sangju Sangmu, who has made six appearances for the South Korean national team. Kim is the highest-profile player implicated so far in the scandal.

The players allegedly accepted money from illegal gamblers to help their teams to lose games.

Kim was arrested earlier this month for allegedly introducing other players to “fixers” who then bet large sums of money on illegal online gambling sites. They face jail sentences of up to seven years if found guilty.

A former K-League player, who allegedly worked as a broker, was found dead in an apparent suicide earlier this month.

Eight of the banned players came from the same team, Daejeon Citizen.

An 11th player, Kim Jung-kyum of the Pohang Steelers, was given a ban of five years.

Kwak Young-cheol, head of the disciplinary committee, said that the punishment symbolizes the seriousness of the alleged wrongdoing.

“This decision shows our determination to be stern in dealing with corrupt and illegal activities in sports, which regards fair play and fairness as the highest values,” Kwak said in the statement.

Kwak said the players’ bans would be reviewed if they were cleared of wrongdoing in criminal proceedings.