Spurs star Son Heung-min's dad denies 'corporal punishment' at football academy

By AFP   June 25, 2024 | 11:53 pm PT
Spurs star Son Heung-min's dad denies 'corporal punishment' at football academy
Son Heung-min plays in Tottenham's 6-2 win over Leicester City on Sept. 17, 2022. Photo by Reuters
The father of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min on Wednesday denied allegations of physical and verbal abuse at his South Korean football academy, after a student's family sued him and his coaches.

Son Woong-jung, a former footballer who shot to prominence in South Korea thanks to the success of his striker son, runs a training academy for aspiring players.

Son senior has also authored a best-selling memoir, outlining his football philosophy and detailing how he helped his son become one of the best strikers in the English Premier League.

South Korean media reported Wednesday on allegations of physical and verbal abuse made by one of his football academy's students, who claimed a coach hit him with a corner flag during training, causing injuries that required weeks of treatment.

Son senior, 62, acknowledged the incident had occurred, but denied it amounted to physical abuse.

"This incident was not corporal punishment but a mutually agreed event as part of fitness training," he said in a statement.

The player came last in a race, he said, and was supposed to be "hit once" on the thigh.

The incident came to light after the young player's parents reported Son senior to the police in March after they noticed a bruise on their son's thigh.

They provided a photograph of the purported injury, which was published by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

"Thinking about how frightened my son must have been makes me angry," the father said, Yonhap reported.

"I decided to report the case to the police because I didn't want to see another case like this."

Son senior said he had tried to resolve the matter amicably but failed because the parents had demanded a settlement worth hundreds of millions of won (hundreds of thousands of dollars).

"We are currently awaiting a fair legal judgement based on facts," he said in the statement.

Son admitted his coaching methods had failed to follow new standards concerning players' human rights.

"I will self-reflect in atonement for having insisted on my method while failing to catch up with the boundaries set by the change of times and laws."

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