November 21, 2012
Still enthralled by last weekend’s multiple goals by Koreans (Park Chu-Young, Koo Ja-Cheol, Son Heung-Min) and a thrilling seat-of-your-pants U19 AFC Championship title win, there’s not terribly too much to report midweek. –Wait a tic: I’m getting reports from K-Talk that FC Seoul has just clinched the K-League title. A 1-0 win over Jeju United on Wednesday was all they needed to win the division title. Attention is now being drawn to the bottom of the table this weekend and the battle to avoid relegation. Here are the highlights:
Meanwhile Ki Sung-Yeung is recovering on schedule and is expected back for Swansea when they host Liverpool this Sunday. Another new shocking development today: Roberto Di Matteo has been fired from Chelsea. This is coming at the heels of a 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League, that and his decision to keep Torres on the pitch for the past several dreadful matches. Rafa Benitez has been handed the keys temporarily by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Now the Tavern was lightly suggesting recently that if the Korean FA was considering a replacement for coach Choi Chang-Hee, former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, who is on sabbatical from managing, might be persuaded to helm the Taeguk Warriors. Well now, there seems to be more potential options for the South Korean national team.
Hey now, I just saw this on the ESPN FC wire, we’ve got confirmation that Augsburg is looking at acquiring Ji Dong-Won during the January transfer window on loan from Sunderland. The Tavern posted about Korean media speculating on the transfer a few days ago and now it looks like it might be a done deal. Apparantly Koo Ja-Cheol had a conversation with the bosses at Augsburg, trying to convince them that Ji and Han Kook-Young (a defensive midfielder for Japanese side Shonan Bellmare) could be impact players for their struggling team. Augsburg currently resides at the bottom of the Bundesliga. Ji, who scored that pivotal goal against Great Britain in the Olympic quarterfinals last summer, has not played a single minute for Sunderland this year. That brings us ever closer to my being able to trademark, “Ji’s Escape From Sunderland!” Could be optioned as a movie, you never know. In the meantime, Ji and Koo together would make an impressive force to help Augsburg get out the cellar, much as Koo’s transfer from Wolfsburg last spring did to reinvigorate the Bavarian club and lift them just beyond relegation in the nick of time.
Now back to your regularly scheduled Tavern post: I’m following up on some other stories at the moment, but in the meantime I have a few unrelated topics of possible interest.
First, you may have heard the news but in case you didn’t: The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg apparently is a huge soccer fan and is now contemplating becoming a minority owner in Celtic, as in Ki Sung-Yeung’s former Scottish Premier League club. The American is known mostly for being a hip hop musician, but has recently rebranded himself as Snoop Lion, the reggae artist and FIFA ’13 spokesperson. He has a few ideas about improving the team, telling the Daily Record that he tried to convince David Beckham to join Celtic, “…LA is home for him and his family now – but I would have to at least make that offer to my boy.” Snoop’s tale about trying to lure David Beckham seemed like showmanship from the ex NWA star, but then David Beckham announced yesterday that he’s leaving LA Galaxy after the MLS Final on December 1. Coincidence? Only Jah Rastafari knows. Now as skeptical as anyone might be about Snoop’s sincerity, seeing as hip hop usually isn’t associated with international football (usually? How about never), his interest is legit, grown steadily in the last couple of years thanks in part to the FIFA video games. This may come as a surprise to some Tavern goers, but quietly last year, LeBron James bought a small share to assume a minority stake in Liverpool. The Miami Heat champ is in fact a huge fan of Lionel Messi. Football taking hold in the US? Stranger things have happened. And if that deal actually goes through, the Celtic locker room most definitely is going to get a lot stranger.
Staying with the US, an announcement came today of a new professional women’s league that will be rebuilt from the ashes of the WPA (2000-2003) and the WUSA (2009-2011). US Soccer will fund and oversee this 8 team division being launched officially in March 2013. Third time’s the charm, at least that’s what the US Soccer Federation hopes. After last summer’s World Cup victory, the US Women’s team in recent matches seems to be in danger of falling behind to several European national teams, not to mention World Cup runner ups Japan right at their heels. What Japan and those other European national teams have that the US currently lacks is a functioning domestic professional league. That seems to be the conundrum: the US Women’s national team has never been more popular in the ‘states, yet there seems to be very little fan base from a sports saturated US market. The subsidized league will need that crucial financial backing for a few years to see if they can eventually stand on their own and provide that crucial club experience to stay on par with the rest of the world.
Lastly, I came across this video from Ai Wei Wei’s twitter account. If you are not familiar with him, he’s a Chinese dissident, a hella artist and a voice for many fighting censorship and repression from the authoritarian government in Beijing. That fight has come at great cost to Ai Wei Wei as he was nearly beaten to death and detained without charge for a period of time last year. He’s still fighting off trumped up charges of tax evasion; the Chinese government is attempting to shut him down by tacking on millions of dollars in “unpaid fines,” related to his operations from his art studio – the very same art studio they bulldozed without any notice. That hasn’t stopped him and his exhibits across the world continue to communicate his middle finger extended to the dictators in power. South Koreans may relate to his plight, as they had been under the yoke of authoritarian governments until the 1990s, and obviously North Koreans to an even further extent.
Here’s a video that was edited by Anish Kapoor and other friends of Ai Wei Wei around the globe. It’s a colliding of worlds (as a Seinfield character George Costanza popularly put it), with museum staffs from New York’s MoMa, Washington D.C.’s Hirshorn Gallery, and other art luminaries PLUS human rights organization Amnesty International getting into this mix -all dancing to the tune of Psy’s Gangnam Style. This bizarre mash up was kind of Ai Wei Wei’s baby originally, as he had put out his out version of Gangnam Style several weeks ago. The production from the original Ai Wei Wei video was tongue in cheek, but while Ai is a good artist, he didn’t have too much rhythm to pull it off. Then again, it’s doubtful he really meant to. Anyway, Anish and friends decided to elevate the ridiculousness, and have some horse dancing fun in the name of Ai and for human rights in China. We’ll have an update actually related to Korean soccer/football tomorrow, but for now, enjoy some Ai Wei Wei Style.
Note: The Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors is now officially banned in China. Wow, that was fast! The Great Firewall has stopped transmission of the Tavern in China proper, but I understand cracks are visible in the Great Firewall. The Tavern is proud to deliver yet another crack in the wall.