SEOUL: FIFA has suspended a South Korean player for two international matches over a post-match political gesture at the London Olympics, the South’s football body said Monday.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee has also slapped a fine of 3,500 Swiss francs ($3,781) on Park Jong-Woo following his actions, which relate to an island dispute with Japan, the Korean Football Association (KFA) said.
The association itself was warned for failure to properly instruct players on rules of conduct.
“We’ve decided to humbly accept FIFA’s decision after consultations with Park Jong-Woo,” the KFA said in a statement.
The 23-year-old midfielder was excluded from the awards ceremony for his country’s bronze win in August after he held up a sign reading “Dokdo is our land” while celebrating the Korean team’s 2-0 victory over Japan.
The Seoul-controlled islands, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, are the subject of a decades-old territorial dispute.
The incident came hours after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak paid a surprise visit to the disputed islands, angering Japan.
Park insisted he took the sign from a fan in the crowd after the match and it was not pre-planned.
FIFA ruled that his action was not premeditated but deserved punishment for “displaying unsporting behaviour”, Yonhap news agency said.
International Olympic Committee officials said Park breached rules against political demonstrations at the Games.
The player has not yet received his bronze medal, but South Korean officials say he will qualify for a pension paid to Olympic medallists.