South Korea said on Tuesday it would increase penalties for match fixing in all sports after an illegal betting scandal rocked its top football league.
"We all feel that this is clearly a crisis," vice sports minister Park Sun-Kyoo told reporters, vowing to draw up a new ordinance governing sports leagues this month.
The penalty for illegal sports gambling will be raised to a maximum seven-year jail term or a fine of up to 70 million won ($65,000), from three years or 15 million won, he said.
Clubs involved in match fixing will have their games suspended or taken off Sports Toto, the country's only licensed sports lottery, Park said.
Indicted or convicted players will receive a lifetime ban with their clubs losing points from standings, he said.
In a widening probe into football match fixing, prosecutors have arrested five players and two suspected fixers. A sixth player committed suicide.
Last week some 1,100 football players, coaches, referees and officials signed a pledge to root out match fixing and other illegal activities.
Rumours abound about match-fixing in the country's pro football league. Newspapers said football clubs, who tend to hush up such scandals, have been silently expelling players implicated in match-rigging since last year.
Players are exposed to growing temptation because the country's illicit online gambling sites, many of them operated by crime rings in South Korea and China, have been growing exponentially, news reports said.