Without offers, Cho Song-hwa unable to complete V League season

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Cho Song-hwa arrives at a disciplinary committee meeting at KOVO’s office in west Seoul on December 10. [YONHAP]

Cho Song-hwa, the Hwaseong Industrial Bank of Korea Altos player who left the club after an argument with the former head coach, will not be able to play for the remainder of the 2021-22 V League.

Cho’s registration deadline was Tuesday, and with no club offering him a contract, the Korea Volleyball Association (KOVO) announced on Tuesday that Cho will not be able to play for the remainder of the season.

On December 13, IBK announced that the club had decided to terminate Cho’s contract following controversies that began on November 12, when Cho stopped showing up at Altos’ training sessions and matches after a defeat to Korea Ginseng Corporation, apparently due to a verbal argument that Cho and former head coach Seo Nam-won had during and after the match and in protest against the abusive environment created by Seo.

Following Cho’s departure, the IBK sacked Seo on November 21 and assistant coach Kim Sa-ni took over as interim coach. Kim also accused Seo of verbally assaulting her, although Seo has since denied all allegations.

Kim only lasted three matches at the helm of the volleyball club, stepping down on December 2 after a game against Korea Expressway Corporation Hi-pass. Kim Ho-chul was appointed the club’s new manager on December 8.

This is the first time that Kim Ho-chul has taken the helm of the women’s volleyball club. After playing professional volleyball for 18 years himself, Kim Ho-chul began his coaching career in 1995, including 12 years for the men’s Cheonan Hyundai Capital Skywalkers.

Despite the change in leadership, Cho did not return to training, although IBK claims they asked him to return for a game against Pepper Savings Bank on November 23. Cho refused and the club decided to release her, but KOVO blocked the attempt on the grounds that Cho had not given her consent.

At IBK’s request, KOVO then called a disciplinary committee meeting on December 2 to decide Cho’s future. The meeting was pushed back to December 10 because Cho said she needed more time to prepare.

When the discipline committee met, it determined that there was not enough information available to establish that Cho had done anything wrong and refused to discipline her. Despite the decision, the club decided to go ahead and cut ties with Cho, and four days later the KOVO listed Cho as a free agent.

Cho’s case is the third dispute in KOVO’s history to involve a lawyer. Cho might be able to keep her contract with IBK if she succeeds in seeking a court injunction that would overturn her contract termination and force the club to pay her remaining salary. But, even if that happens, Cho is unlikely to be able to compete this season as IBK has expressed their categorical refusal to have Cho on their squad.

BY YUN SO-HYANG [[email protected]]


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