Son Heung-Min: The Truth About This Tottenham Hotspur Man’s Military Draft

A lot has been said about the Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-Min’s upcoming potential military drafting. But what is the real deal? Will he have to leave Spurs? Matched betting site Profit Accumulator has given us a factually accurate breakdown of all the permutations. What is matched betting you might be thinking? Visit the Profit Accumulator site for more information!

So, firstly – what must Son do to be legally exempt from the compulsory military draft?

As you might have heard already by now, military service is compulsory in South Korea. All men must enlist themselves for a minimum for two years, before the age of 28 – Son celebrates his 26th birthday next month.

His only chance of getting a legal exemption through sporting achievements is if the team win the Asian Games in Indonesia this August or the Asian Cup in 2019. Those are the only options. If South Korea fail to win the Asian Games or the Asian Cup, then his time as a Tottenham player will probably be over in the summer of 2019.

Contrary to popular belief, the Asian Games and the FIFA World Cup have no relation to the status of Son’s military draft.

The reason the 2002 Korea squad got an exemption was due to special circumstances. When the draw was called, which put the team in a group with Portugal, USA and Poland, the South Korea football authorities were genuinely scared that they were going to witness national embarrassment. They feared that they were going to be the first host nation to not qualify for the knockout stages. Also, Japan got a seemingly easy draw, with Tunisia, Belgium and Russia, so the fear was compounded.

The solution to this problem was that a special exemption would be given to the squad if they qualify for the last 16. The rest is history. The team qualified, national embarrassment was avoided and everyone was happy. Well, sort of. When the Korean Baseball team got to the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classics tournament in 2006, they complained that they should also get an exemption. In Korea, baseball is actually a more popular sport than football, and the Baseball Classics tournament is essentially the equivalent of the World Cup.

The Korean sports officials agreed and also gave the baseball team military exemption. This was the actually the start of some major controversy in the country. Almost every sporting organisation in Korea then started to complain. They all argued that their sports had a World Cup equivalent, so why couldn’t they get an exemption from progressing to a latter stage and doing the country proud. Just because they play an ‘unpopular’ sport, they felt as they were being discriminated against. Which was true to be honest.

The solution was to only give exemptions to athletes that excelled at tournaments where every country has an equal chance of progressing to a similar level. For example, the South Korean football team might get a silver medal, and their judo team could also get a silver medal. In fact, the only tournaments where exemptions were granted were the Olympics and the Asian games. So the World Cup was not included in that.

It’s not to say that special compensation might not have been given to the South Korean team had they progressed to the last rounds of the World Cup, but as the law stands now, they would not have had an exemption.

So, with that in mind – when are the deadlines for Son and his potential exemption?

Sons turns 26 on 8th July. As per the current rules, anyone that has not yet done their military duty can legally withhold until their 27th birthday, if they are working abroad / have a good case.

So if South Korea doesn’t win the 2018 Asian Games, Son will only be allowed to play for Tottenham for a maximum of another year but if he still fails to win the Asian Cup in 2019, then his career with the North London giants is probably history.

Is there any other way he can avoid military service?

There are actually two potential other ways that he could avoid it.

The main one being a serious injury. If he is unable to actually perform the military service due to an injury, he would not be required to participate whilst he is injured.

The other possible way is an individual exemption from a senior government official. He won’t be exempt from the military draft, but he will be able to delay it so he can keep playing during his prime years. Son is a big deal in South Korea, so this is a possibility, but there’s not really any precedent for it.

So those are the facts. There’s been a lot of mistruth spread in the media, but as it stands now those are the reasons he will or won’t have to serve his military draft.

Note: This article is sponsored by Profit Accumulator.

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Pranjal Bhawal

Pranjal is the co-owner of The 4th Official. While he completed law from Department of Law, University of Calcutta, his passion always remained in football and that is where he finally ended up at.

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