The Asian Football Confederation has opened the door for reigning champions Jeonbuk to be excluded from the 2017 Asian Champions League after the finalisation of a new judicial body today.
The five-man panel, chaired by China’s Liu Chi, and termed the Entry Control Body, is a body external to the AFC charged with reviewing and implementing the newly released Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions.
It's that document which explicitly states, at Item 11.8, that any clubs found guilty of match manipulation shall be automatically banned from regional competition for a period of one year.
Jeonbuk, who earlier this year had a former staff member convicted and sentenced for attempting to bribe referees in the 2013 K-League season, clearly fit that criteria yet oddly were allowed to participate in this month's ACL draw despite growing criticism from across the continent.
It's understood that this new body was established by the AFC as a result of recommendations from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following a case earlier this year where the Swiss-based organisation overruled the AFC’s decision to expel Cambodian club Phnom Penh Crown FC from the AFC Cup as a result of issues around match fixing.
The new body comprises Liu, in addition to the Deputy Chairman, Australian Judge Rauf Soulio, India’s Nandan Kamath, Iranian Ahmadreza Barati and Saudi Arabian Bandar Al Hamidani and will function entirely independent of the AFC.
An AFC Spokesman told Fox Sports Asia that this new body is now free to review the decision to include Jeonbuk in the upcoming ACL.
It's highly likely they will make it a matter of urgent business to do just that with a decision needing to be made as a matter of urgency given the competition kicks off in barely a month and a half.