Go to Contents Go to Navigation

Footballer Park Jong-woo trying to stay positive ahead of IOC hearing

All Headlines 11:56 February 08, 2013

BUSAN, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- Park Jong-woo, the South Korean football player facing an International Olympic Committee (IOC) disciplinary hearing over his celebration at the London Olympics, said Friday he is trying to stay positive.

Park arrived at Gimhae International Airport, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to begin preparing for his presentation at the IOC's Disciplinary Commission meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, next Tuesday. Park had been in Thailand for offseason training with his professional club, Busan I'Park.

The IOC will review Park's celebration after South Korea defeated Japan 2-0 in the bronze medal contest in men's football at the London Olympics.

Park held up a sign that read, in Korean, "Dokdo Is Our Territory," in support of South Korea's sovereignty over its easternmost islets, to which Japan has also laid claims. Dokdo has been a source of diplomatic tension between the two countries for years. The IOC's Olympic Charter prohibits any display of political statements by participating athletes, coaches and even fans during the Olympics.

Park was barred from attending the medal ceremony and has not yet collected his bronze medal.

South Korean officials said Park will attend the meeting with a veteran international attorney. He will spend the rest of Friday rehearsing his presentation before departing for Switzerland Saturday.

Upon arriving in Busan, Park said he's been able to overcome his distress from the incident.

"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been stressed out in the past six months," Park said. "But I've gotten better thanks to support from everyone. I believe that positive thinking will lead to a positive result. I am trying to stay optimistic."

In December, FIFA, the international governing body of football, suspended Park for two matches and fined him 3,500 Swiss francs (US$3,855) for his "unsporting behavior." The penalty was so lenient that Park wasn't even allowed to appeal.

The IOC will use the FIFA decision as a reference when it issues its own disciplinary ruling. Though the relatively light punishment by FIFA has led to speculation that Park will eventually collect the bronze medal, South Korean officials have said they aren't taking any chances.

They have tried to explain that Park's action was not premeditated or intentional. Park himself said he will just try to be "honest" at the IOC hearing.

"I will try to express my honest feelings," he said. "I believe truth will always work."

Park Yong-sung, chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee, will also join Park in Lausanne, officials have said.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!