Korean football diplomacy, which has been pushed back by Southeast Asia, has become an ‘outsider’… Losing the rudder 

Chung Mong-gyu (61), president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), failed to join the International Football Federation (FIFA) again. Chairman Chung, who attended the 33rd General Assembly of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) held in Manama, Bahrain on the 1st (Korean time), was defeated in the only FIFA Council member election he challenged. The FIFA Council, which replaced the existing Executive Committee, is an organization that deliberates and decides on major policies and issues in the international football world.

This is the third failure in four years. Chairman Chung, who failed in the 2015 FIFA executive committee election, was elected a member of the FIFA Council in May 2017 and worked for about two years, then failed to re-elect in April 2019, and again this year.

Chung Mong-joon (72), honorary chairman of KFA, who served as a FIFA executive from 1994 to 2011, was the only case in which a Korean footballer joined the FIFA executive before Chairman Chung.

In this election, where a total of seven candidates were nominated and five were elected, the most painful thing was the number of votes. Chung received only 19 out of 45 valid votes. Behind Chairman Chung, there is only Du Zhaokai (China, 18 votes), who tried to serve a second term.

On the other hand, Sheikh Ahmad Khalifa Al Thani (Qatar) received the most votes with 40 votes, and current FIFA Council member Kozo Koshima (Japan) received 39 votes. Yasser Almisehal (Saudi Arabia, 35 votes), Mariano Araneta Jr. 스포츠토토 (Philippines, 34 votes), and Datuk Haji Hamiddin bin Haji Mohd Amin (Malaysia, 30 votes) will begin their four-year term until 2027. .

Chairman Chung forgot the year-end and New Year holidays and toured Asian countries, but in the end it was in vain. It is currently difficult to ascertain whether the support promised by Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain), the president of AFC, who succeeded in running for the fourth term as a solo candidate, actually existed and how much of an impact it had.

Of course, being a member of the FIFA Council is a very ‘narrow gate’. Soccer skills shown in international competitions such as the World Cup are different. Thorough interests and political logic work. However, the center of gravity of Asian football has long since moved to West Asia. Qatar succeeded in hosting the 2023 Asian Cup following last year’s World Cup, and Saudi Arabia was decided to host the 2027 Asian Cup. Previously, the Asian Cup was held in the Middle East three times in a row, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2015.

Korea has not been able to accurately read the international trend. Limitations have already been proven in the unsuccessful bid for the 2023 Asian Cup. Korea, which aimed to host the tournament, which China returned due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19), had all the weapons Korea had to offer, such as challenging the international stage, the logic of holding rotations by region, and K-culture. Qatar, on the other hand, emphasized support for associations and athletes participating in the tournament, building infrastructure and maximizing commercial potential. Even though it is not an era where justification wins over practicality, it can be seen that it has been approached in the wrong direction from the beginning.

Besides, I should have challenged myself in the Asian Cup. If they had taken care of the AFC-sponsored events, such as the Asian Cup, instead of prioritizing the joint hosting of the World Cup, which has a very slim possibility, as well as the Women’s World Cup and the World Cup by age group, they might not have been in the same situation as they are now.

Moreover, when the Corona 19 pandemic was in full swing, it was Uzbekistan in Central Asia along with Qatar and the UAE that first reached out to AFC, which was unable to hold major international competitions, including the AFC Champions League. A key figure in the domestic football world said, “When AFC was really desperate and desperate, Korea and West Asia made completely different choices. If you wanted to enter FIFA, you had to take care of the base in the continent first.”

FIFA Council member election strategies should also be reviewed. The current situation is very serious, as China is confused by the abandonment of the Asian Cup, the disintegration of professional teams, and the indignation of association executives. In Malaysia, the king and the government are very interested in AFC activities, and in Japan, the chairman of Kelp has been traveling all over Asia for a long time and diligently selling his footsteps, so his influence is not small. It was a structure that could never be won without Chairman Chung’s ‘big promise’.

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