By Narae Kim
SEOUL, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Seoul City Amazones jumped to the
defence of forward Park Eun-seon on Thursday after rival
managers in the South Korean women's top flight threatened to
boycott the league unless she takes a gender test.
Park, who played for South Korea at the 2003 women's World
Cup and has won 19 caps, said she was "humiliated" by the
incident while lawmakers have called for an investigation into
whether her human rights had been violated.
The Korea Football Association said Park took and passed a
gender test at the age of 15, though they did not reveal
specifics of the result.
After news of the boycott threat emerged this week, the six
coaches were the target of a social media backlash and tried to
downplay the matter as a joke made at a private meeting.
Lee Sung-kyun, the coach of Suwon, told Reuters by telephone
on Thursday he had resigned to apologise but maintained there
was no real threat of a boycott and the issue of a gender test
was merely to get Park back into the national team.
At a news conference held at Seoul City Hall, however, irate
Amazones coach Seo Jung-ho lashed out at his rivals and said
they were undermining Korean women's soccer.
"This should not have happened," he said, his voice rising
with anger. "It is just so terrible to see the coaches, who
should be mustering wisdom for the future of Korean women's
soccer, colluding to hurt one of our best players."
Local media reported that six of the WK-League's seven
coaches held an informal meeting on Oct. 19 and subsequently
filed a complaint with the KFA that if Park did not take a
gender test they would boycott next year's competition.
The 26-year-old, who played at the 2003 women's World Cup
and won her last cap two years later, is the top scorer in the
league this year with 19 goals.
"Excessive competition, selfishness and sexist insults (from
the coaches) are plaguing this young player," continued Seo.
"She is older now and managing the situation in a more
mature way than before. It looks like she is immune to it."
Jun Byung-hun, floor leader of the main opposition
Democratic Party, has called for Korea's National Human Rights
Commission to look into the matter, while a "Save Park Eun-seon"
petition on one of the nation's most popular Internet portals
has received more than 14,000 signatures.
Park did not attend the news conference but said on her
Facebook site: "I can't believe this is happening again. I have
gone through the gender examination thing several times. I did
it in a World Cup, in an Olympics and in several others and
there were no problems.
"I did it when I was young and I was mortified by them.
"I will try my best to make you feel dirty, just like I do,"
Park added in a comment apparently aimed at the coaches.
Suwon's Lee said the comments from the meeting had been
misinterpreted and that they only had the best interests of
Korean women's soccer at heart.
"I feel so sorry that it got leaked and spread in a
distorted manner," he told Reuters.
"All of the coaches there that day were talking about how
sad it is for us and Park, who is one of the best players in the
world, not to make it to the national team since 2005.
"We were making a proposal to the KFA to make better use of
her for women's soccer."
Local media said the issue of Park's gender was raised by
China ahead of the 2010 Asian Cup and that she was omitted from
the team because of it.
Lee continued: "Then we thought, if she makes it back to the
national team another country might file a complaint again about
her gender identity like China did in 2010.
"So we were merely saying it'd be better for her to take a
gender verification test in Korea in case it becomes an
Lee said he was sorry Park had been hurt by the incident.
"During lunch I tendered my resignation to apologise to Park
for this matter."
While Lee tried to downplay the comments, Kim Joon-soo, the
secretary general of Seoul Sports Council which overseas the
running of sports teams in the Korean capital, said the matter
was no joke.
"This is a serious violation of human rights," he said at
the news conference.
"The coaches later played down their statement saying they
were making a joke at an informal meeting but I have here the
official document they submitted to the KFA," he added,
pointing to papers.
"We have no intention of accepting the gender verification
test just to stop the boycott, but if it is needed for Park to
compete in an international game and under specific regulations
of FIFA, we will consider it."
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Patrick Johnston)