Sponsor Drops Former Street Fighter V Champion In Light Of Domestic Abuse Allegations
Update 11/16: Capcom has clarified to Game Informer that Seon-woo's removal from this and next year's Capcom Pro Tour "was the agreed upon by Capcom, Panda Global and Infiltration - not solely determined by Infiltration on his side."
Original Story: Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo has been banned from competing in Capcom's Street Fighter V pro circuit, and has had his contract with sponsor Panda Global terminated, in light of a recent charge of domestic violence.
The issue first came to light in September, when an anonymous Reddit user alleged Seon-woo had been assaulting his ex-wife since September of last year, after his loss in that year's Evo tournament. They alleged Seon-woo "blamed his wife for his loss in the tournament," and had destroyed her property and attacked her. "One day she tried to call police but Infiltration snatched her phone and choked her to near death and dragged her out of the apartment but fortunately neighbor saw him beating his wife and called police," the user said.
In the wake of the allegations, Panda Global began investigating Seon-woo, while according to the sponsor, Seon-woo "voluntarily withdrew from competing, streaming, and social media," during the investigation, including an exhibition at this year's Tokyo Game Show scheduled for that weekend. "[Seon-woo] maintains that the accusations against him are false and he is innocent of assault," the company said.
The company then worked with Capcom to investigate and verify the charges (you can find a timeline of both the incident and Panda Global's investigation comparing the allegations made by the Reddit user and what Panda Global found here). The investigation was slowed due to "the complexities of the Korean legal system, including getting access to any court documents, coupled with a major national holiday in that country and translation lead times," according to Capcom's own statement on the matter. Today Panda Global released a statement summarizing its findings.
While they were unable to confirm some of the specific charges made by the Reddit user, it did find an incident of "an altercation" which took place on October 22 of last year. According to Panda Global's summary of their investigation, Seon-woo was charged with "violence" after his ex-wife obtained a medical note stating she had sustained "bruising and an injury to the wrist with no hospitalization necessary. "As a result of this incident [Seon-woo] received what we understand to be akin to a temporary restraining order [in Korea]," and paid a fine equivalent to $630 for "violence." Panda Global notes this on the "low end of the punishment range," and states the maximum fine would be equivalent to $4,500.
As for the destruction of property, Panda Global reports Seon-woo informed his ex-wife he and his mother would visit their joint-leased home to collect his personal belongings. When he arrived, he found the passcode to the lock had been changed. Seon-woo says he "consulted the police and was informed that it was within his rights to enter his home and hire a locksmith to open the lock." After Seon-woo had a locksmith break the lock, his ex-wife charged him for property damage and won the case, charging Seon-woo a $300 fine.
As a result of their investigation, Panda Global terminated its contract with Seon-woo, who is currently ranked #11 on the Capcom Pro Tour leaderboard, has decided to voluntarily withdraw himself from the Capcom Pro Tour for the rest of the year and through 2019.
According to Capcom, "a second offense will result in a lifetime ban from participating in all future Capcom Pro Tour events." As for the tournament itself, "all players on the global ranking leaderboard below this rank will move up one position as we are considering his withdrawal the equivalent of a disqualification," Capcom said.
In his own statement released by Panda Global, Seon-woo states he is innocent and that "after Panda has released [this statement], I will explain everything later."
We've reached out Capcom for any additional statements regarding the matter and will update this story should they reply.
It should also be noted that while Capcom does run its own circuit, the Street Fighter V competitive scene isn't entirely controlled by Capcom. It'll likely be up to individual tournament organizers to determine whether they want ban or allow Seon-woo at their tournaments, even if he won't compete at Pro Tour events. The association between those organizers does add some pressure, however.