KFA bashing in full swing online
No expectations, no disappointments.
This phrase best summarizes Korean football fans’ sentiment for the national team.
Korean football has become dismal and could not get much worse. Fans displayed skepticism even before the friendly match against Morocco on Oct. 10. The national team lived down to expectations — Korea lost 1-3, days after its frustrating game against Russia.
Now fans’ disappointment has turned to anger toward the Korea Football Association (KFA), which is responsible for selecting the coaching staff and the national team.
On the internet, the KFA has become a public enemy.
KFA President Kim Ho-gon became one of the most searched names on the nation’s largest internet portal Naver shortly after Korea’s crushing loss to Morocco.
Internet user CherryFiter urged the KFA to take responsibility for the “downfall of Korean football” and called on Kim to step down. Other internet users held Kim and the KFA accountable for the frustrating defeats.
Football satire is in full swing. Some fans, who watched the game against Morocco on TV, alleged Kim took a nap while watching the game at the Tissot Arena in Biel, Switzerland. Posting a captured image of Kim watching the game with his arms folded, an internet user wrote, “Ho-gon is tired.”
Kim’s remarks during a news conference on Sep. 26 at KFA headquarters in Seoul before the friendly games belatedly drew the ire of fans after the games. He said he felt sorry for head coach Shin Tae-yong because he was so depressed in the face of mounting criticism of the national football team.
Kim said fans campaigning to bring Dutch football manager Guss Hiddink back were the source of the problems. The KFA president presented a grim preview of the friendly games.
He said the matches against Russia and Morocco could fail to meet fans’ expectations.
“It should be noted that unlike internet games, one cannot control football matches, so the results are not something the coaching staff can possibly control,” he said.
His remarks backfired. Internet user baboondal sarcastically wrote the Morocco friendly was the best game the national team has played since Shin took the helm in that Son Heung-min scored a goal.
“Considering no goals were scored in the previous games, isn’t it something remarkable?” he wrote. Another internet user, Doctor, urged the KFA to fix alleged corruption inside the organization. “Two conditions must be met to make the national team stronger,” he wrote. “For one, cor- rupt KFA executives must step down and two, players must change their mantra. If no progress is made in either of these two, the national team will continue to remain hopeless. Even if Hiddink is back with the team, he cannot make a difference.”
Korean football experts have been searching their souls about what has gone wrong.
MBC football analyst Seo Hyeong pinpointed the “old school’s” domination in key decisions inside the KFA as a source of the problem and claimed the “aging” football authorities had made it difficult for the national team to cope with the ever-changing football environment.
“Many of the key decision-makers there were born in the 1950s and their influence is enormous,” he wrote in a recent column.
SBS football analyst Park Mun-sung blamed the football authorities for replacing the head coach in June, less than a year before the 2018 Russian World Cup.
In a column, titled “Why Does KFA Take No Responsibility?” he said the KFA had repeated the same mistake it made before the 2014 Brazil World Cup. The football authorities replaced then national team head coach Choi Kang-hee with Hong Myung-bo in June, 2013, less than a year before the World Cup. Shin was appointed head coach in July.
According to Park, one year is not long enough for a head coach to build a strong team.
The KFA bashing shows the daunting job of leading the national team.
The position of national team head coach is often compared to a “poisoned chalice.” It is a much-coveted position, but at the same time the risks are high when things go badly. Many former football team managers, including Hong, became victims after the national team performed poorly.
Hong, who led Korea to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and was well aware how tough being the national team manager can be, initially rejected the KFA’s offer to take the helm again in 2013. But he later accepted after the football authorities persuaded him to save a team in crisis.
And the results were miserable — Korea failed to win a game during the Brazil World Cup.
The media depicted Korea’s frustrating results as the downfall of Korean football, claiming Hong’s stubborn leadership was the source of all the problems.
Kim Ho-gon, president of Korea Football Association