Predictions range from suspensions to fines.
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) will hold a punishment committee for the national team’s belated drinking controversy at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March.
The KBO announced that it will hold a punishment committee for SSG Kim Kwang-hyun, NC Lee Yong-chan, and Doosan’s Jeong Chul-won at 11 a.m. on July 7 regarding the WBC national team drinking controversy. The punishment committee will be held behind closed doors
Players can attend if they wish to appear in person. Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan, and Jeong Chul-won are reportedly planning to attend the penalty committee in person. Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan and Jeong Chul-won admitted to drinking alcohol at a nightclub in downtown Tokyo, Japan, during the tournament on the night before a non-match travel day and a rest day.
Article 13 [Discipline] of the National Team Operating Regulations states that a disciplinary committee may be held for those who have caused a social scandal. Discipline will be applied in accordance with the KBO Rules and Penalties Bylaws.
Article 151 of the Baseball Regulations states, “If a player, manager, coach, club employee, or umpire commits an act that damages the dignity of the game outside of the game, such as drug offenses, military service irregularities, racism, violence, sexual offenses, drunk driving, gambling, or doping, and causes social disgrace, appropriate sanctions may be imposed, including disqualification, suspension of duties, suspension of participation activities, suspension of travel, imposition of a fine, or warning.
Drinking alcohol itself does not constitute a disgraceful act in the same way that gambling, violence, or drunk driving does. However, the team finished 안전놀이터 with a disappointing first-round exit at the WBC, and fans criticized the team after it was revealed that they had been drinking.
Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan, and Jeong Chul-won admitted their wrongdoing and apologized for drinking alcohol at a nightclub. With the apologies issued and the three players out of the first-team roster, attention is now focused on whether the punishment committee will impose discipline for disgracing the national team in a broad sense. Some are predicting suspensions, while others say fines and youth service will suffice. The most minor punishment is a ‘warning’.
On March 30, a media outlet revealed that some members of the WBC team had been drinking with female hostesses at a brothel all night before the game between Australia and Japan. The revelation that the players drank alcohol in a room salon until dawn before the game caused a stir in the KBO.
However, the KBO and its nine clubs launched an investigation into the matter, which turned out to be a little different from the initial revelations. Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan, and Chung Chul-won submitted statements to the KBO, which said on March 31 that “the three players did not enter the snack bar on the night before the game during the tournament. However, they said that they entered the bar on the day they traveled from Osaka to Tokyo (7th) and the day before their rest day (10th). All but three of the athletes confirmed in factual statements that they did not visit any entertainment venues during the tournament.”
The dates and locations mentioned in the initial report were different. It was a snack bar with no female hostesses and on a non-match night. Kim Kwang-hyun drank with an acquaintance on the day of the move (7th) and with junior Chung Chul-won on the day before the rest day (10th). Yongchan said he drank with an acquaintance the day before his rest day (10 days).
Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan, and Chung Cheol-won apologized to the media before the game on Monday. Kim Kwang-hyun said at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 1st, “I am standing in front of the media and fans to apologize for my unsavory behavior during the WBC tournament. I would like to express my sincere apologies to all fans, media, and baseball players who love baseball for acting without thinking during the international tournament for whatever reason. As a veteran of the team, I regret that my thoughts were very short and I did not control myself,” he said with his head bowed.
At Changwon NC Park on the 1st, Lee Yong-chan said, “First of all, I apologize for the disappointment I caused to the fans and all the officials who supported me as a national team member. On the eve of a rest day during the tournament, I had dinner with an acquaintance at a Korean restaurant in Tokyo, then went to a nearby bar for about two hours before returning to my hotel. Regardless of the reason, I am deeply remorseful for drinking alcohol during the tournament,” he apologized.
Chung Chul-won also apologized at Changwon NC Park on the 1st, saying, “First of all, as a professional baseball player and wearing the national flag, I caused too much disappointment to baseball fans and everyone. I sincerely apologize. On March 10, during the WBC, we had a drink after the game against Japan. Many people were disappointed with the team’s poor performance, and I acted shamefully. I sincerely apologize. My behavior was inexcusable and frivolous. I’m really ashamed of myself,” he apologized.
Kim Kwang-hyun was removed from the Day 1 roster, while Lee Yong-chan and Jung Chul-won were removed from the Day 2 roster. They are serving a period of self-restraint before the punishment committee.