“Former SK Player Reveals” Suspicion of Baseball Back Payments…But There is No ‘Contract’, the Issue is ‘Evidence’

“I don’t have the contract”

Yoo Jung-joo, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party of Korea스포츠토토, held a press conference at the communication center of the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, on March 23 to raise allegations of “backroom deals” related to KBO League free agent contracts. In addition to the cases of Jang Jeong-seok and Park Dong-won, former managers of the KIA Tigers, in March, he claimed that there are more than 10 cases where the actual contracts and the contracts submitted to the KBO League are different.

Representative Yoo Jung-joo said, “There is a story in the baseball world that has long been an orthodoxy. The rumored ‘backroom dealing’ refers to club presidents, general managers, and managing directors signing large contracts with free agents and receiving money from the players in return,” he said, raising the suspicion of ‘backroom’.

Representative Yoo Jung-joo said, “The principle of signing a player contract between a club and a player is to create a unified contract. And a team that signs a contract with an FA player must submit the contract to the governor. However, among the FA contracts submitted by the clubs and kept by the KBO, a number of contracts were found that differed from the contents of the baseball yearbook published by the KBO every year. The total amount and options ranged from 1.4 billion won to 50 million won, and some of the contracts were found to have different signatures and handwriting of the players.”

He even gave a specific example of a player who used to play for SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers). This is not a case of a player paying a club official. After the player and the club signed a free agent contract, the documents the club submitted to the KBO contained the signature of a third party, not the player. In other words, the contract was not signed by the player, inflating the size of the contract and stealing the difference.

Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung, who held a press conference with Representative Yoo Jeong-joo, said, “Many years ago, Player A, who had completed a normal FA contract with SK, the predecessor of SSG, and went on a training camp, was forced to go to the police station instead of home upon his return. At the time, a detective questioned him, saying, ‘What did you do with the 100 million won in cash you received in addition to your FA contract and guaranteed salary, and did you give it to the club’s general manager?’ According to the investigator, it is believed that the club officials made back money and took it for themselves without the knowledge of Player A, who signed an FA contract.”

Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung continued, “Player A was neither asked for nor gave any money by the club officials. However, he was suspected by the police because of the club’s self-funding, and he was stigmatized as a ‘bad player who gave money’ in the baseball world.” “SSG requested to check Player A’s contract. However, the SSG responded with a non-committal answer that the club would show the contract if Player A showed it to them first. Player A’s actual contract, salary, and options are very different from the contract that SK submitted to the KBO.”

Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung added, “If the contract that the KBO has in its possession was written by someone without the player’s knowledge, it is a crime of forgery of documents. And there is no statute of limitations for the KBO to investigate the wrong contract again,” and Representative Yoo Jung-joo emphasized, “If the KBO systematically asks for money from players and creates secret money without the players’ knowledge, it will be a ‘professional baseball FA money scandal’.”

In the Q&A after the press conference, Representative Yoo Jung-joo said, “I can only say that I was involved. I received some reports from people who were involved, and I received references about it.” Then, when lawyer Kang Yoon-kyung said, “There are about 10 players whose contract amounts differ from the KBO yearbook, but it is difficult to specify,” Yoo Jung-joo said, “According to the records we know and received, yes. However, we estimate that there are more, but we can’t be sure yet.”

Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung and Representative Yoo Jung-joo of the Democratic Party of Korea.

Representative Yoo explained that there are specifics regarding the player A mentioned in the press conference. Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung said, “In addition to the error in the document, there are specific details about Player A mentioned in the press conference. Although Player A is not an active player, there is room for active players to be included. However, it is difficult for them to appear as witnesses.”

There are about 10 players whose contracts differed from the amounts shown in the KBO’s yearbook, but it can be assumed that Player A is the only one for whom concrete evidence has been secured. Player A claims that the signature on the contract submitted to the KBO is not his handwriting. Attorney Kang Yoon-kyung said, “The story started with Player A, who can be considered a victim. He spoke directly about the facts of the damage. And the evidence was collected objectively. We haven’t gotten to the forensic stage, but Player A says it’s not his handwriting.”

The biggest problem, however, is that Player A, who is now retired, does not have the contract he signed with SK more than a decade ago. While it is true that there was indeed a police investigation, it is clear that the question of whether the club officials took “back money” remains to be seen. For now, the police concluded that there were no suspicions that Player A and the club exchanged money and closed the investigation.

Representative Yoo Jung-joo of the Democratic Party of Korea and lawyer Kang Yoon-kyung.

Lawyer Kang Yoon-kyung said, “I don’t have the contract. It’s not common sense, but most athletes are thorough with their papers and documents. I think the lawmaker’s office requested national audit data from SSG, but I personally didn’t get it,” she said, adding, “I need to confirm, but I remember that the contract was signed without an agency at the time.”

“I can’t say for sure, but it’s not in the range of 1 million to 2 million won,” Kang Yoon-kyung said of the other victims. In the end, the issue is evidence. Since Player A doesn’t have a contract from the time, it can be assumed that Representative Yoo has no evidence. We can only hope that the National Audit will not be limited to raising suspicions.

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