Fuck the KFA: The Guus Hiddink Saga

I don’t want to step into Jinseok’s post-in-the-works about the KFA and Hiddink’s turbulent relationship over the years (only the KFA would have a bad working relationship with the manager that led the KNT to relevance and sponsorship deals), which is why this post will be opinion-based.

I’m pissed. Fucking pissed.

You total, oblivious, innocent, self-absorbed pieces of shit.

How ironic, how fucking ironic is it that on the same day Guus Hiddink destroyed the KFA’s reputation with the leaking of one single KakaoTalk message, a dozen of you fuckers were arrested for corruption and misappropriation of money for luxurious trips and lavish vacations?

Did I mention I was pissed?

Let’s wind back the tape for a minute:

A brief timeline

A few days ago, the story broke in Korean media that Guus Hiddink wants to coach the Korean national team. Now this raised a lot of eyebrows. Hiddink wanted the job *after* Shin Taeyong put his professional career on the line to bring the team to the World Cup and navigate two tricky qualifiers? Though from an emotional standpoint, we really wanted it to happen, from a professional standpoint, such a thing would be impossible. You don’t kick Shin out just like that. The story didn’t come from Hiddink directly, just rumours in the media and a fairly ambiguous source. So, we moved on. It brought to light some of the bad beef between the Dutch boss and the KFA (which I believe Jinseok will cover in his post) but we moved on.

Then, yesterday, news broke that Hiddink would actually want to return to Korea in any professional capacity to help or advise the KNT. The media seemed to suggest that this came directly from Hiddink himself, with the honorary Korean citizen seeming to suggest that he would be happy to take up an administrative role also. Things weren’t clear, the Korean media and netizens were jumping to conclusions and inflicting huge pressure on the KFA to do something about it. Once again the KFA steadfastly denied the rumours, with technical director Kim Hogon saying “I don’t know from whose mouth these rumours came from, it doesn’t make sense for this to be said at this stage when we’ve just accomplished the goal of qualification.”

Today, things got a little bit… different.

HIDDINK WANTED THE JOB!

GUUS HIDDINK ACTUALLY WANTED THE JOB.

THE KFA ACTUALLY LOOKED AT CV’S BETWEEN HIDDINK AND SHIN AND CHOSE SHIN TAEYONG.

WHAT?!

Hiddink held a mini media availability with YTN in Amsterdam today to set the swirling rumours straight. He had some interesting things to say, and among them was that back in June, he contacted “friends within the association” to inquire about a possible comeback to the national team. Korean media did some work and uncovered this:

Over the summer, when Stielike was dismissed, one of Hiddink’s friends/employee (a Korean-speaker) contacted then-KFA vice-president Kim Hogon.

The dramatic evidence lies in this KakaoTalk message that seemingly went unanswered but was definitely read by Kim, who was later appointed technical director.

I’m filled with too much blinding rage to actually translate this properly, but I’ll make a cursory hash of this:

JUNE 19TH 2017

Mr. Vice President!

Because Hiddink would strongly agree to become the NT manager, maybe you should just hire an interim boss for the next two games. Stay in touch after we qualify!

On first thought, one could say, “Look, he only wanted the job for the World Cup!”

But the rationale then was that hiring a domestic manager for the 2 qualifiers would be the best way to make it to the World Cup. Plunging a foreign boss into a high pressure situation without having ever coached these players was suicidal. It makes sense. Hiddink wanted the job, Kim Hogon knew he wanted the job.

The KFA’s genius: So you sit down and compare Hiddink with Shin Taeyong

And choose Shin Taeyong?

With not even a whisper of a leak in Korean media of this happening back in June, we have no idea what two-faced Kim Hogon’s position on Hiddink was at the time, nor do we know if his name was brought up at the meeting of the technical committee.

Did Kim just ignore the Kakao-Talk message, because he has beef with Hiddink (having suggested he was sleazy and money-seeking in the past… oh how the tables have turned)?

Did Kim not mention Hiddink to the technical committee, leaving them in the dark about a possible candidate for the job, because he didn’t want to consider Hiddink?

Did Kim mention Hiddink, and was that one of the reasons why the meeting of the technical committee lasted three times as longer than it was scheduled to? In other words, did Seo Jungwon, Hwang Sunhong and other mostly respected or tolerated figures in Korean football seriously not choose Hiddink over Shin Taeyong?

So many questions, so little answers, and yet through the power of investigative journalism and keyboard warrior-ism (the lowest form of internet existence, to which I seem to have descended tonight), I somehow feel like this story is not finished.

The KFA Can’t Win!

scha·den·freu·de
ˈSHädənˌfroidə/
noun
  1. pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.
I feel… schadenfreude. Probably the most angry schadenfreude possible, but still, I am very very very happy at how this has fucked over the KFA.
I woke up to Jinseok’s almost April Fool’s-like breaking news post this morning reporting that several senior KFA officials, past and present, including the former KFA president, were arrested (without detention, which makes it sound like a slap on the wrist. would have wanted the image of handcuffs)
The police said Cho Chung-yun, former president of the KFA, took his wife on business trips and used 30 million won (US$26,473) of KFA money to cover her travel expenses. Cho also used a corporate credit card to pay green fees of 14 million won when he played golf with his acquaintances, even though it wasn’t related to KFA business, according to the police.(Yonhap)

We’ve opined for so long on this site that the KFA needs to start being held accountable for the national team’s failures, and that Hong Myungbo’s resignation crisis was a manifestation of this – Hong’s head brought to the guillotine by angry netizens failing to recognize that the real problem here was the total and utter clusterfuck that the KFA is ultimately wholly responsible for.

There’s probably a smarter way to say this, but the netizens are usually such a useless bunch of keyboard warriors swearing at the world looking to post the most edgy comment possible to get that special status rating and get 6000 likes on a post.

But I’m basically being a Korean netizen right now, so let me just say that on this issue, I welcome our fellow keyboard warrior overlords.

The KFA is so terribly screwed over.

Kim Hogon’s reputation is completely annihilated. He tried to backtrack today blaming administrative reasons and saying “A KakaoTalk message is not a job application”, which in itself is true, but given the shoddy, unprofessional, sleazy way that the KFA conducts its business I didn’t think it was too abnormal. The question really is why the KFA wasn’t actively seeking Hiddink’s services, given that our situation at the time was (and still is) so desperate that we would have welcome good old Guus with open arms, even if he made a total cock-up of the Netherlands national team.

People are now beginning to recognize what a corrupt, bureaucratic, dirty, despicable and disdainful organization the KFA is. The type of organization that appoints failed technical directors vice-presidents, and failed vice-presidents get considered for the national team job. The type of organization that goes on hold when the President goes back to his full-time job as a somewhat relevant business mogul and travels halfway around the world to jerk himself off with millions of dollars that he’ll never invest in Korean football precisely because being KFA prez is a hobby for him.

Korean football isn’t dead, as that banner in Incheon Airport back in 2014 said. But the KFA is killing it more than it is nurturing it. If it takes a high-profile news flash like this one to make the general public aware of it, then so be it.

Final drunken thoughts (I’m a little inebriated, sorry)

We can’t underestimate the importance of the 2002 World Cup. The NT’s success in that competition triggered the development of generations of footballers who might not otherwise have laced up their boots. It brought together a nation, healed wounds, and channeled a huge feeling of national pride. It helped make Korea relevant – economically and in the footballing sphere. We were a good footballing story. The world cheered us on. It was, for many Tavern writers, the re-connection of themselves with their Korean roots in a bizarre and unexpected way.

Guus Hiddink believed in his team. He set them on a strict dieting regimen, he trained them hard and produced without a doubt the most effective, most tactically-astute Korean national team side – or perhaps even Asian side – in history.

Think about that.

He may very well have been the manager who oversaw the single greatest accomplishment in Asian footballing history to date – being relevant in our first World Cup. Putting the continent on the map. That stereotype that Asian types are “organized” and “structurally sound” and “hard-working”? That comes from his 2002 side.

Guus Hiddink is a legend. We should have been honored to welcome him to his “second home”. He couldn’t fix things on his own, but he was ready to ruin his reputation to help out the Korean national team and give it one last shot. Very few foreigner managers actively want this poisoned chalice. Even fewer are those who want it again after having made such an incredible contribution to Korean football and even Korean society.

But yet the KFA – Kim Ho-gon specifically – looked at his credentials, and said ‘he’s just not ready’.

“I never worry about the professional risk.” – Guus Hiddink

To the KFA – You owe me 40 bucks for that translation job I never got paid for. But you owe Korean soccer fans much more. They care about the state of Korean football. You do not.

So, three words:

Fuck the KFA.

About Tim Lee 262 Articles

The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?

6 Comments

  1. Damn well said. I’ve never met someone as passionate about Korean football, as much as I, until I found you guys. I find myself constantly ashamed for being Korean, because of all the corruption in Korean society nowadays. I’m glad to find people like you, who can see things straight. I wish 신태용 all the success. I, like you, would’ve loved Hiddink back as our coach. I think right now all we can do is hope that Hiddink will become the next Technical Director of the KFA, and turn things around. The bitch-ass fucker Kim Ho Gun should be relinquished of his duties, and sent to prison. Anyways best of luck to you!

  2. It is so sad to see this happen…it has a bad effect on the team and also puts some undeserved pressure on Shin TaeYong…
    I’m dutch myself and we had troubles behind the scenes too while Hiddink was coach.
    No corruption, but just a mess at the KNVB in general. Hiddink had a hard time getting things better Everybody was talking about ‘the mess at KNVB’ and Hiddink got Fired (in a not so nice way).
    After missing the Euro Cup 2016, the World Cup is also far away for Holland…
    Last time Holland didn’t go to the world cup South Korea got 4th!! Who knows!!

  3. So what is new about the KFA…a clandestine old boys club. These old farts running the KFA are killing Korean football. Without new and younger blood, Korean football will continue to play catch-up to countries like Japan, Australia, and Iran, even though these countries have their own problems..

  4. I feel there are a few things at play here, which all have to do with Korean customs and culture and which this article highlights. Basically, almost everything Korea/ Koreans do is based on perceptions.

    In Korean culture (as I understand it), no one in high power admits to failure unless forced to. So going back to Guus would mean that the KFA is admitting that they failed since 2002 (minus a few highlights, they have).

    Also, with the Korean culture in mind, it would be considered disrespectful to ShinTaeYong to just hire him for qualifications and/ or dismiss him now. Guus made it known secretly that he would manage IF Korea qualified. So the KFA couldn’t name Shin interim and announce that they had someone else in line. After qualification they HAD to offer the job to Shin so that Shin didn’t lose face.

    Now, Guus AND the press really put the KFA in a bad position by going public. ShinTaeYong MIGHT have fallen on the sword before and resigned without losing face, but now he can’t do that without losing face. KFA won’t fire/dimiss him now no matter what until after WC. They’re definitely not going to hire Guus in any role, which (as mentioned before) would mean losing face.

    There were a few different ways Guus could have gotten the job, but he too is proud and arrogant (as well as he should be with his storied career), but at the end of the day no one outside of Korea wants him either at this moment.

    The KFA would have had to make it seem to the public as if the reunion was by happen chance or as if Guus is coming home and Shin was being gracious and LETTING him sit at the head of the table.

    All of that is out the window now.

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