Female footballer embroiled in gender controversy
SEOUL, South Korea -- It's rare that the domestic women's soccer league makes the sports headlines, however a scandal over a female player's gender has brought the league into the spotlight this week.
Park Eun-sun, a 26-year-old striker for the Seoul City Amazones has been accused by six coaches of being a man, with the rivals going as far as demanding the Korean Football Association to ban the player from competition, and a possible league boycott of next season. Park's club denounced the move, citing it a human right's abuse and threatening legal action against the the clubs.
“We officially demand the coaches make a sincere apology to Park,” said Kim Jun-soo, secretary general of the Seoul Sports Council. “Demanding a gender examination on a person is a serious human rights violation that insults someone’s character."
Park, who stands 180 cm and weighs 74 kg, has faced the allegations throughout her career. She has previously undergone gender identity tests, and represented South Korea at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2005 East Asian Cup without problems. She also competed in the Asian qualifying event for the 2004 Athens Olympics according to Yoo Jee-ho of the Yonhap News Agency. She was however, dropped from the 2010 AFC Asian Cup squad after Chinese officials threatened to make her do a gender test though Korean officials noted she was let go due to a lack of fitness.
Park led the league with 19 goals in 22 games this season, helping her club to second place in the WK-League table. Managers from the other clubs however, question why she hasn't made the national team, despite her considerable talent. Lee Sung-gyun, Suwon FMC's head coach and organizer of the league coaches to demand a gender verification test resigned today amid the on-going scandal according to Yonhap News.
“We didn’t mean to raise issue about Park’s gender,” Lee said. “We were only questioning why Park hadn’t been on the national team even though she’s the best female player.”
Park remains adamant that she will not let this controversy get her down.
"I know these people are trying to destroy me and see if I can bounce back next year," she wrote on her Facebook page. "They are the ones who would smile at me and say hello, and now they're trying to kill me. It really hurts because it reminds of the times when some of these coaches tried to recruit me out of high school. They were nice to me for a while and then they turned their backs on me."
The Korean Football Association has no plans to re-test her.
Photo: Seoul Metropolitan Government