South Korea on Monday announced new rules for the national school football leagues that include strict academic requirements for university student-athletes.
The Korea Football Association said only the schools that adopt the so-called "C grade system" will be allowed to compete in the U League, a KFA-organized circuit for university football clubs, starting from 2018. Under the C grade system, students who earned an average grade of C or below for two consecutive semesters will not be able to compete in the U League.
The new academic qualification system has been already applied to the member schools of the Korea University Sport Federation (KUSF), but following the KFA decision, it is now a mandatory requirement for all clubs in the U League.
The KFA said those who are sophomores or older will have to earn at least a C for two semesters this year in order to play in the 2018 U League. To assist the footballers meet their academic eligibility, the KFA said it will cooperate with schools to help them take summer classes.
The KFA also decided to scrap the nationwide champions' football league for elementary school and middle schools starting next year. Under the current system, elementary school and middle school football clubs play regional tournaments and the top teams from those competitions later advance to the nationwide championships.
This photo privided by the Korea Football Association shows two elementary student footballers vying for the ball. (Yonhap)
The KFA said the current school football system places too much pressure on young footballers as competition gets overheated, and it also doesn't go along with the league's goal of launching a joyful football culture in the country.
The KFA said, however, the high school football league will be operated under the current system with the national championships. (Yonhap)