WBC ‘cotton batting’ disciplinary controversy sparked by unclear rules

Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG Landers), Lee Yong-chan (NC Dinos), and Jung Chul-won (Doosan Bears) were fined and given community service for drinking alcohol during the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Some critics have called the punishments “cotton-batting” and “ineffective”. Others are asking the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) secretariat, “Is there any basis for discipline?

On the 7th, the KBO held a punishment committee at the Dogok-dong Baseball Hall in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, and handed down 80 hours of community service and a fine of 5 million won to Kim Kwang-hyun and 40 hours of community service and a fine of 3 million won to Lee Yong-chan and Jung Chul-won, who admitted to drinking at a bar during the WBC.

The grounds for the disciplinary action were Article 9, Duty of Players, Paragraph 2 of the National Team Operating Regulations of the KBO Baseball Regulations (obligation to protect the honour and dignity of the national team during the call-up period and to submit to control as a member of the national team) and Chapter 14, Article 151 (appropriate sanctions such as disqualification, suspension of duties, suspension of participation activities, suspension of travel, imposition of sanctions or warnings may be imposed on players who commit acts that impair their dignity outside the game and cause social controversy).메이저사이트

The three players have agreed to abide by the decision of the KBO Penalty Committee.

Kim Kwang-hyun, Lee Yong-chan and Chung Chul-won, who represented Korea at the WBC in Tokyo, Japan, in March, were criticised for drinking alcohol at a bar outside their accommodation during the tournament.

As the Korean team’s performance at the WBC was disappointing, fans were even more shocked to learn that the players had visited a bar during the tournament.

The KBO set up an investigative committee to determine the timing of the drinking, the presence of staff, etc.

Credit card statements were also requested to determine the players’ whereabouts.

Eventually, it was revealed that Kim Kwang-hyun had visited the bar twice and Lee Yong-chan and Jeong Chul-won once.

While the KBO’s secretariat swiftly investigated and disciplined the three players for drinking, the matter was far from resolved.

There are no clear penalties for disgraceful behaviour such as alcohol consumption by national team players during a national team call-up. This is why the “cotton bat” discipline was controversial in the first place.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are lawyers who advise that “legally, there are insufficient grounds to punish the players”. There is also a member of the penalty committee who is reportedly of a similar opinion.

However, everyone knows that public sentiment is more frightening than the law.

The KBO’s punishment committee deliberated and chose fines and community service as a way of disciplining players without being subject to the court of public opinion.

Bans and suspensions from the national team, which are common punishments in other sports, were not discussed due to their ineffectiveness.

Kim Kwang-hyun, who is in his mid-30s, retired from the national team after the WBC, and Lee Yong-chan, who is the same age, is no longer able to wear the Korean flag, so bans and suspensions are useless for them.

However, the same cannot be said for Chung Chul-won. It goes against the equity of punishment.

You can’t punish a player and his team in the regular Korean Baseball Organization for what he did as a national team member. The three clubs, SSG, NC, and Doosan, took the initiative to remove the offending players from their first-team rosters, effectively suspending them.

This is the first time the KBO has ever punished a player for drinking alcohol during an international tournament.

After realising that the grounds for punishment were not clear in the first instance, the KBO said it would “refine the national team rules”.

The KBO has specific grounds for punishing various acts of disrespect, such as “suspension of participation activities for more than two months, suspension for more than 50 games or a fine of more than 5 million won” for violence and “suspension for more than 20 games or a fine of more than 2 million won” for unsportsmanlike conduct towards spectators.

Specific sanctions for ‘inappropriate behaviour during international competitions’ are also expected to be issued soon.

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