KFA bash­ing in full swing on­line

The Korea Times - - SPORTS - By Kang Hyun-kyung hkang@ktimes.com

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.

Korea Times file photo

Kim Ho-gon, pres­i­dent of Korea Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion

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