AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk banned from 2017 season

Defending champions of AFC Champions League K-League's Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have been officially barred from participating in this year's AFC Champions League by the apex body.

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Kuala Lumpur, Jan 18: AFC Champions League title-holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have been banned from this year's competition over a match-fixing scandal in South Korea's K-League, Asia's football governing body said today, January 18.

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"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) independent Entry Control Body today declared that Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) is ineligible to participate in AFC competitions for the 2017 season due to its indirect involvement in activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches during the 2013 and 2014 K-League seasons," the confederation said in a statement.

AFC official logo (Image courtesy: AFC Champions League Twitter handle)

"The Body subsequently ordered that Jeju United FC (KOR) shall be the third seed and Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) the fourth seed representing the Korea Football Association in the AFC Champions League 2017," it added.

The ban decision was based on a new document by the Entry Control Body setting out rules for eligibility.

AFC Champions League Twitter handle tweeted to confirm:

Any clubs involved in "arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level" will be barred from the Asian competition for one season, according to the document.

Asia's football authorities have long struggled against match-fixing, with major scandals seen in countries including South Korea and China.

In September, K-League leaders Jeonbuk were docked nine points and fined 100 million won ($83,000) after one of their scouts was convicted of bribing referees during the 2013 season.

As a result, Jeonbuk narrowly missed out on the Korean title. But they beat UAE's Al Ain 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League final to lift Asia's most prestigious club trophy.

At the 2017 AFC Champions League, Jeonbuk had been placed in Group H with Adelaide United of Australia, Jiangsu FC of China and a playoff-winning team to be determined later. 

AFP

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