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Beleaguered police football club gets approval to play in 2nd division

All Headlines 20:22 December 20, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- Asan Mugunghwa FC, a football club facing disbandment, received approval from the South Korean pro football league office on Thursday to compete in the second division next year.

The K League, the operator of the South Korean pro football leagues, said it decided to allow Mugunghwa to stay in the league after they came up with a recruitment plan for the 2019 season.

Mugunghwa won the K League 2 this year but were denied promotion to the first division after they failed to submit their recruitment plan for the 2019 season.

Mugunghwa, managed by the Korean National Police Academy, were founded in 1996 with the purpose of helping footballers stay in the game while fulfilling their mandatory military duties. The players who join Mugunghwa are part of the auxiliary police, completing their national duty as police officers after finishing basic military training.

This photo taken by the K League on Nov. 5, 2018, shows Asan Mugunghwa head coach Park Dong-hyuk (C) being tossed in the air by his players after his side won the K League 2 title. (Yonhap)

The South Korean government last year announced it will abolish the auxiliary police by 2023 and that recruitment will end by 2022. But the National Police Agency recently ordered the police academy to stop recruiting athletes immediately and disband its sports teams by next year.

In order to compete in the K League, a team must have at least 20 players. They currently have 26 players on the roster, but 12 of them are scheduled to be discharged in February.

With help from their host city Asan, Mugunghwa said they'll recruit players for the 2019 season in addition to fielding the 14 police footballers remaining on the team.

The K League previously told Mugunghwa to come up with a recruitment plan by Thursday. The league office added that it took into consideration Mugunghwa's unfavorable situation that was started by the police agency's abrupt recruitment halt.

The K League added that Mugunghwa will be allowed to compete in the K League 2 until 2020. There have been talks of transforming Mugunghwa into a municipal government-owned club by transferring management rights to the Asan city government.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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