South Korean Footballer Hwang Ui-jo Suspended from National Team Amid Police Probe

SEOUL – The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on Tuesday that forward Hwang Ui-jo will be banned from the national team during an ongoing police investigation into allegations of illegal filming. The decision was reached following a meeting between representatives from the KFA's ethics committee and national team technical committee. This move comes in the wake of criticism directed at the KFA for including Hwang in the men's national team for World Cup qualifying matches, despite him being questioned by police as a suspect.

Hwang, 31, is accused by an ex-girlfriend of filming a sexual encounter without her consent, using his mobile phone. Despite these charges, Hwang has denied all allegations and participated in World Cup qualifying matches for South Korea earlier this month, shortly after being summoned by police.

According to Yonhap News Agency, head of the KFA's ethics committee, a member of the national team is expected to maintain high moral and ethical standards. Lee emphasized that a player's conduct off the field is crucial to their role in representing the country and acknowledged the potential impact of the case on both the national team and its supporters.

The KFA has not yet considered further penalties for Hwang, given its limited role during an ongoing criminal investigation. However, police have seized Hwang's phone as part of their probe. The ex-girlfriend's attorney has contested Hwang's claim that the recording was consensual, alleging that Hwang did not apologize and instead further traumatized her by publicly stating that the video was made with her consent. In response, Hwang's legal representative asserts that the ex-girlfriend was aware of the phone's placement during the encounter and that Hwang is a victim of an illegal video leak.

Jurgen Klinsmann, the national team head coach, has faced scrutiny for supporting Hwang, stating he saw no issue with fielding the player as he has not been convicted of any crime. Klinsmann maintained this stance upon returning to South Korea, emphasizing Hwang's importance to the team and his hope for Hwang to contribute to the upcoming Asian Cup.

Hwang's participation in the Asian Cup, set to begin on January 12 in Qatar, is uncertain depending on the progress of the investigation. He has scored 19 goals in 62 matches for the national team, including one against Singapore on November 16. The KFA has kept Klinsmann informed about the developments in the investigation and the decision to suspend Hwang from the national team.

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