China releases South Korean footballer Son Jun-ho held in bribery case

Son has returned home after being held on the suspicion of accepting bribes while playing in the Chinese Super League.

South Korea's Son Jun-ho was detained in China on suspicion of accepting a bribe while playing for the Chinese Super League club Shandong Taishan [File: Lee Jin-man/AP]

South Korean international footballer Son Jun-ho, who was detained by Chinese authorities over bribery allegations, has been released and returned home, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The midfielder was detained in China last May “on suspicion of accepting bribes by non-state employees”, the Chinese government said at the time, without providing further details.

Son “recently arrived in South Korea as his detention ended” after 10 months, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The government has provided “active legal assistance through close communication with Son’s family”, it added.

The Foreign Ministry did not reveal when he returned or whether the charges against him were proven.

“We have been communicating with Chinese authorities through various channels to request their cooperation in ensuring a fast and fair process [for Son] while also communicating closely with his family in South Korea,” the South Korean ministry said in a statement. It said it had conducted about 20 consular interviews with Son to provide assistance and ensure fair access to lawyers.

The Korea Football Association confirmed Son’s release, saying the 31-year-old footballer had returned on Monday.

Son played for Shandong Taishan football club in the Chinese Super League since 2021 and appeared in three of South Korea’s four matches during the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Son played seven seasons with South Korea’s Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors before joining Shandong Taishan in 2021 on a four-year contract. He has played for South Korea 18 times.

Source: News Agencies