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S. Korean football player returns home after 10-month detention in China

March 25, 2024 - 22:29 By Yonhap
Son Jun-ho of South Korea speaks at a press conference before a training session for the FIFA World Cup at Al Egla Training Site in Doha on Nov. 22, 2022 (Yonhap)

South Korean football player Son Jun-ho returned home Monday after being detained in China for around 10 months, authorities here said.

Son, a national team veteran who plays for Shandong Taishan in the Chinese Super League, had been held in Liaoning province since last May on alleged bribery charges.

The Korea Football Association confirmed Son's release, stating that he arrived in the country through Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway, west of Seoul.

"We have requested cooperation through various channels with Chinese authorities to ensure a swift and fair process," the foreign ministry also said.

Chinese media previously reported that Son's case may be linked to authorities' investigation into match-fixing allegations involving the coach and other players on Son's team.

With the national team in Bangkok to play Thailand in a World Cup qualifying match Tuesday, South Korean midfielder Lee Jae-sung said Monday that he was "grateful" to have heard the good news on Son.

"Jun-ho and I are good friends. We've been playing together for a long time. It broke my heart when I first heard about his detention last year," Lee said at South Korea's prematch press conference at Rajamangala Stadium in the Thai capital. "Everyone here has been praying for Jun-ho. I am so grateful to receive this news before our match here. I hope he will soon start playing football again, because that's what he loves to do."

Son, 31, has collected 20 caps, and represented South Korea at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Before signing with Shandong, Son won the MVP award in South Korea's K League 1 for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2020. (Yonhap)