So, the Ki vs Choi saga has rumbled on with the KFA now wading into things. An update on that story, plus Hong Myeong-Bo made a few announcements about his coaching staff, and the KFA has scheduled another friendly against Iran.
If you aren’t aware of the Ki-Choi saga here’s a quick recap.
*A further correction. In a previous post, I had said that Choi had commented on blood type and football ability. I had the blood types backwards. Choi had said type B footballers are good and type O are mistake prone. Apologies.
- During the final few weeks of Choi’s tenure as national team boss, rumors of discontent and divisions within the squad started to emerge (mainly domestic vs overseas players)
- After leaving the team, Choi saw it fit to criticize some of the overseas players, particularly Ki Sung-Yueng in his press conferences after re-joining Jeonbuk Motors
- Shortly after, a sports journalist published screenshots “leaked” from Ki’s private Facebook account where Ki criticized/threatened Choi Kang-Hee (comments were from March of last year)
- Criticism of Ki became widespread, and Ki acknowledged that the account was his and he issued a short apology for the comments
First off, thanks to reader AA28 for clarifying/correcting part of my translation where Ki commented about Park Chu-Young. I thought Ki was taking a dig at Park’s poor season, but he was equating a comment Choi Kang-Hee had made about European players (namely Ki) to all the overseas players including Park. Also, as the story has grown the English-language Korean papers have picked up the story, and provided a better translation then mine.
The main part, that seems to be getting Ki in trouble is this, “I was so shocked and disappointed that I couldn’t play from the first half,” (on not playing the first half of the Kuwait game) “Now, everyone must have felt the necessity of haewoipa (a group of players playing overseas). You should not have provoked us. I hope you don’t act arrogant toward us again. If you do, it could hurt you.” (courtesy of the Joongang Ilbo)
The new development in the story is that the KFA has officially opened disciplinary proceedings against Ki. Their investigation will center around the question of whether Ki has “brought disgrace upon or caused a rift within the national team.” If he is found guilty, then the KFA could impose a monetary fine or at worst, a multi-year ban or total expulsion from the “local football community”. The general thinking seems to be that Ki will be found guilty, considering his admission to owning the account and making the comments, which leaves the question of how much punishment will the KFA hand out.
It seems unlikely that the harsher punishments will be handed out. The KFA is undoubtedly aware of the World Cup next summer, and it would be virtual suicide to keep one of the national team’s most influential player out of it. I suspect that Ki will receive a monetary fine and possibly a short ban. Watch this space for developments.
Beyond the possible punishment for Ki, this ‘saga’ raises some important questions about professionalism and the use of SNS (social media). I think SNS is important and useful for celebrities, whether they be actors, singers, politicians, business people, or professional athletes. But, it does seem like clubs and national teams do need to implement some rules, guidelines, and/or training about it’s use. Players saying stupid things on Twitter or Facebook are not uncommon or new, it seems like it’s high time that the people in charge of these organizations (football clubs/country associations) get in front of the issue rather than react to them.
The other part, professionalism is a more complicated one. Being a Madridista in terms of club following, I have unfortunately had to listen to a lot of rumors of locker room moles and splits within squads. So, while it’s not wholly surprising that it happened with the Korea national team, it is something that brings a grimace to my face and a small knot in my stomach. I understand Ki’s frustration in terms of not playing in that qualifier against Kuwait. If you don’t remember it was that crucial last match of the 3rd round of qualifying (Choi’s first in charge). Choi had made the unusual starting midfield of Lee Keun-Ho, Kim Sang-Sik, Han Sang-Woon, and Kim Doo-Hyun. All due respect to those players, but none of them were better than Ki.
Yet, I can’t help, but sympathize with Choi (a little). Ki is a good player, with a lot of potential still, but he doesn’t have the right to be so brash and spoiled as to, in some ways, threaten the coach of the national team (even if the message was intended to be private). In my opinion there is no one on the Korean national team that has earned the right to be that arrogant about their importance. Besides that, Ki does need to think about how his comment can be taken by his teammates. The overseas players are certainly important, and more talented than the domestic players, but Korea does not have a group of overseas players that can fill every position (yet). Some domestic players are needed. Ki’s assertion that the domestic players aren’t good enough, while true to an extent, is a potentially damaging comment to the team.
In this regard it also gives more credence to Choi’s comments. That Ki is a locker room disruption and at fault for some of the poor performances. *side note, I do also think that Choi would be well-advised to, ahem, shut the f*ck up and move on*. However, the timing of the “leak” of Ki’s comments are interesting, as they came up right after Choi made his and caused an uproar. Which leads me to suspect that someone hacked Ki’s Facebook account, possibly in search of damaging comments he made. It certainly wouldn’t be a new thing for Korea’s “netizen army”.
But anyway, hopefully we can move on from the past year and create a brighter future. Time will tell. Onto other news.
In an attempt to put the nastiness of the last Korea-Iran match behind them, the two countries have announced joint sporting ventures recently. Amongst these ventures is a friendly to be held between the two in Korea on September 6. Certainly it shouldn’t be as volatile as the last one, being that there is nothing on the line (other than bragging rights) and that Hong Myeong-Bo is well-respected and not likely to shoot off at the mouth. Speaking of Hong . . .
Hong Myeong-Bo Announces Coaching Staff Additions
This news is actually a bit old, but Hong has announced three additions to his coaching staff they are: Kim Tae-Young, Park Gun-Ha, and Kim Bong-Soo. Kim Tae-Young and Park Gun-Ha will both join as assistant coaches, and Kim Bong-Soo will join as the goalkeeper coach. All three were part of Hong’s Olympic team staff, and have prior experience as coaches at the club level (with K League teams). The full announcement can be read at the KFA’s website.