The Korean Football Association (KFA) has handed down a severe punishment of a 15-match suspension and a 4 million won ($4,000,000) fine to Suwon FC specialty striker Lars Veldwijk (32, Netherlands), who was recently caught driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Korean Professional Football Association officially announced on Tuesday that it “held its 10th punishment committee and decided to suspend Lars from Suwon FC for 15 games and fine him 4 million won.”
The league said, “Rath was caught by police on the morning of the 7th while driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol level was found to be above the level of a revoked license,” the league added.
This is bad news for Suwon FC. Suwon FC has a record of six wins, five draws and 14 losses (23 points) this season and sits in 10th place in the relegation zone of the 12-team K League 1. They are only eight points behind ninth-place Jeju United (8 wins, 7 draws, 10 losses, 31 points). Of course, there are still 13 games to go. But it’s clear that it’s not going to be easy, especially considering how tight the race is going to get.
However, Lars is arguably Suwon’s most important asset. The Dutch-born, South African international played for Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch league until 2020. He then joined Jeonbuk Hyundai in January 2020 before moving to Suwon FC, which was then in the K League 2, in July of that year. Led by Lars’ five goals in the second half of the season alone, Suwon eventually won promotion to the top flight.
In 2021, Rath was even better. He led the team’s offense with 18 goals and six assists, including in the K League and FA Cup. With Rath’s performance, Suwon FC had a breakout season with 14 wins, 9 draws, and 15 losses, finishing in fifth place. Ras was named to the K League 1 Best 11 that year. He followed that up with eight goals and seven assists in 34 appearances last season, helping the team stay in the top flight. This season, Rath is still second in the K League 1 in offensive points with nine goals and five assists. He has the most goals and assists on the team.
◆ A drunk driver’s downfall… In the past, Kunimoto and Jonatan both left the team due to drunk driving.
Lars made waves when he was arrested for drunk driving on July 7. At the time, Suwon FC announced through its official channel, “We would like to inform our fans that Lars, a member of the team, was caught driving under the influence of alcohol early this morning and is under police investigation. We sincerely apologize to the fans who have always supported and loved Suwon FC and Ras,” the club said, adding, “The club has informed the KFA of Ras’ drunk driving arrest and will follow up with appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with the club’s regulations.”
According to the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul, Lars was reportedly caught driving drunk on a road near Sinsa Station in Gangnam-gu, Seoul at 4 a.m. on July 7. At the time, police responded to a report of a “suspected drunk driver,” and Lars was arrested at the scene. He reportedly had no passengers and did not cause any other accidents. Police charged Lars with violating the Road Traffic Act (driving under the influence). A breathalyzer test revealed that Lars’ blood alcohol level was over 0.08%, which is enough to revoke his license. According to the current KFA rules, if a player’s blood alcohol level falls within the threshold for license revocation, he will be suspended for at least 15 games but not more than 25 games and fined at least 8 million won.
At this point, it seems likely that Rath will leave Suwon FC and be banned from the Korean game altogether. Other recent foreign players to be banned for drunk driving include Kunimoto of Jeonbuk Hyundai and Jonatan Moya of FC Anyang. Kunimoto caused a stir last July when he was involved in a drunk driving accident, and Jeonbuk Hyundai eventually pulled the release card. At the time, the league suspended Kunimoto for 60 days for causing a social issue. At the time, Jeonbuk explained, “The matter is obvious and serious, so we reached an early contract termination by mutual agreement with the player.”
Then, in April, Jonatan, who was leading the K League 2 scoring charts at the time, received a notice from his club, FC Anyang. On April 2, Jonatan hung his head in shame after being caught drinking by police. His blood alcohol level reached the level that would have revoked his license. “Due to the seriousness of the matter, the club decided to terminate Jonatan’s contract early,” Anyang FC said in a statement explaining the release. At the time, the league also suspended Jonatan for 60 days.
Suwon FC: “There is no unconditional termination” What’s next?
Suwon FC immediately suspended Lars from training as soon as he was caught drinking. On the 8th, Suwon FC said through the Federation’s punishment committee, “We are alarmed by the drunk driving of players that is not eradicated in the K League, and despite the club’s continuous education of the players, an unsavory incident that is socially condemned has occurred. The club recognized the gravity of the situation and had a long discussion. At a time when the team is on the cusp of turning around its recent relegation battle, this unforgivable offense by a foreign player who plays a pivotal role in the team has resulted in the immediate suspension of the player from training and matches.”토토사이트
“In accordance with the opinion that unconditional termination of contracts, such as the recent cases of other clubs, is not helpful in preventing future recurrences, we will once again hold a meeting of the club’s player management committee after the outcome of the Federation’s penalty committee on Tuesday. All professional soccer players in the K League have a huge responsibility as public figures, and we made the decision based on the judgment that driving under the influence of alcohol for any reason is an unacceptable criminal offense. We apologize once again for the distress this incident has caused to the fans who love Suwon FC and all football officials.”