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Military Exemption for Soccer Players Mulled

Posted June. 24, 2010 12:59,   


A dispute erupted Wednesday over granting military draft exemption to members of the national soccer team for reaching the World Cup`s second round for the first time on foreign soil.

Shortly after the team`s 2-2 draw with Nigeria in Durban, South Africa, Korea Football Association President Cho Chung-yun and team coach Huh Jung-moo recommended that their players receive exemption from mandatory military service.

“What the players want is exemption from military service," Cho said. "We gave this benefit to national team players when we advanced to the second round in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.”

Huh added, “The advance to the second round this time is largely attributable to those playing overseas. Many players want to play abroad but cannot because of mandatory military service. I want the government to exempt them from the draft by allowing them to perform public service instead after finishing their careers.”

Of the 23 players on the national team, 15 including Park Chu-young (AS Monaco), Ki Sung-yueng (Celtic) and Kim Jung-woo (Gwangju Sangmu) must serve in the military. Under law, Olympic medalists and those who win gold in the Asian Games receive exemption from military service.

In the 2002 World Cup, the government exempted national soccer players from military service under a recommendation from the football association.

The public has shown mixed reactions to the move. Some support the exemption since the team raised the country`s reputation, while critics say the benefit is unfair and discriminates against those who compete in less popular sports.