AFC Champions League holders Jeonbuk Motors have been banned from continental competition in 2017 over a match-fixing scandal in the K-League, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Wednesday.
Last year, Jeonbuk were docked nine points and fined 100 million South Korean won (approximately US$85,000) by the Korean Football Association after one of their scouts was found to have made payments to referees in 2013. The points deduction ultimately handed FC Seoul the K-League title ahead of Jeonbuk.
Jeonbuk defeated Al-Ain 3-2 on aggregate in the 2016 Champions League final but will not be given the chance to defend their title.
A club statement confirmed the four-time Korean champions will step up their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“The AFC independent Entry Control Body on Wednesday decided that Jeonbuk Motors are ineligible to participate in AFC competitions for the 2017 season due to its indirect involvement in activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches during the 2013 and 2014 K-League seasons,” an AFC statement read.
“Such indirect involvement was found to be in contravention of Article 11.8 of the Entry Manual for the AFC Club Competitions 2017-2020. As such, Jeonbuk Motors was deemed not to have met the sporting criteria to participate in the AFC Champions League 2017.”
Jeju United finished third behind second-place Jeonbuk in the K-League last season and have been handed their group-stage spot, with Ulsan Hyundai subsequently awarded a Champions League qualifying place.