Recently, a racism controversy swept the soccer world when players of the K League 1 Ulsan Hyundai made a joke about the skin color of a player from Southeast Asia.
The incident has raised concerns about the prevalence of racism in the K League, but it also shows that Southeast Asian players are treated as valuable assets on the field.
The Korean Professional Football Association’s punishment committee held a meeting at the Shinmyeong-ro Soccer Hall in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on March 22 and handed down a one-game suspension and a 15 million won fine to Ulsan’s Park Yong-woo, Lee Myung-jae, and Lee Kyu-sung. Ulsan was fined 30 million won for the team manager’s racist remarks and responsibility for managing the squad.
The players made fun of Lee’s dark skin color, referring to Southeast Asia and using the real name of Sasalak Hyprakorn, a Thai player who played for Jeonbuk Hyundai in the K League 1.
The publication of their conversation raised concerns that racist behavior is widespread in Korean professional soccer. Some worried that Southeast Asian players could be discouraged from entering the K League through the Asian Quarterfinals.
However, there are also responses from Southeast Asian players on the field that they do not feel any racism.
Two Southeast Asian players currently playing in the K League are Indonesia’s Asnawi and Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Thoane.
Asnawi played for the Ansan Greeners in the K League 2 (2nd Division) from 2021 to last year, and was recruited to the Jeonnam Dragons this year in recognition of his skills, and has recorded two assists in 11 games. Bantoan, who was coached by Park Hang-seo, joined Seoul Eland in the K-League 2 ahead of this season and made nine appearances.
As a flanker, Asnawi plays a crucial role in the defense and is prized in Jeonnam. Asnawi noted that he has never faced racial discrimination while playing in the K League.
However, he did express regret over the racist comments made by Ulsan players. “I don’t know exactly what they said, but I’m sorry to hear that there were racist remarks in the K League, and I’m sorry for that,” he told Newsis on Nov. 26. “I think we should respect each other as people who have football in common.”
“I have never felt racism since I 토토사이트 came to Korea and the K League,” he added.
Asnawi also believes that the incident should raise awareness about racism: “I think we should respect each other as human beings living together. It doesn’t matter what race you are, where you’re from, where you’re from, or where you came from, but I think we should respect each other,” he said, “and I hope we play with more respect because soccer is about coming together.”
Bantuan is also a valuable member of the Seoul Eland team. As one of Vietnam’s top soccer stars, he wears the halo of being Park Hang-seo’s protégé and has a lot of status on and off the field.
He has his own clothing brand in Vietnam and is also an influencer in his home country, where he is known to wield considerable power.
During the June A-Match, he attended a Vietnam-Korea exchange event in Hanoi. On June 22, Bantuan attended the Korea-Vietnam Cultural Exchange Night at the Vietnam National Convention Center (NCC) alongside President Yoon Seok-yul and former Vietnam national team coach Park Hang-seo. The event was attended by more than 2,500 people, including H.E. Mr. and Mrs. Thi Aing Xuan, Deputy State President, and local Hallyu fans.