Edwin Cardona: Racist / Other Notes from Korea : Colombia

Notes from Korea-Colombia (the recap post was getting too long)

Brand it on the wall, hold it up for everyone to see, say it louder for the people in the back:

Edwin Cardona: Racist.

Seriously. What an idiot. His side has played a terrible game, unbecoming of the 14th-ranked side in the World, and posterboy James Rodriguez has let his emotions conquer him and is diving like a little baby does. A scuffle ensues – and his response is to resort to casual – or actually, overt – racism. I repeat it over and over again, but it is simply unacceptable that in a globalised world such as ours in 2017 that we do not condemn and forcefully sanction individuals making overtly racist gestures. At a time when so much money and energy have gone into media campaigns, community organizations, large-scale condemnation of racist ultras like those in Russia and Israel, even at home with the ban of a Suwon Samsung supporter who did the Nazi salute, it would be disdain for FIFA to sit on their hands and do nothing. If it’s unacceptable coming from the stands, it doesn’t belong on the pitch. No if’s, and’s or but’s.

More after the jump.


The Racist

  • Racism… again?!
    • The game was ruined by Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona doing the good ol’ “Asian eyes” treatment.
    • Steve Han did some excellent work bringing this to light on his twitter:
    • The initial reaction was really one of “again?” This happened last September when Castilla’s prospect Federico Valverde did it in Daejeon at the U-20 World Cup, and then in the Western world we saw Houston Astros third baseman Yuli Gurriel give LA Dodgers ace Yu Darvish the treatment at the World Series. Though this one isn’t as “high-profile” at that incident, it is unmistakably racist. James Rodriguez has been frustrated all game and tries to manhandle Kim Jinsu – Captain Ki steps in to give James a shove, who falls down like a little baby – scuffle ensues – and Cardona does that.
    • The incident has garnered intentional attention. Just google Cardona racist and you’ll get tweets with hundreds of retweets, Goal.com, Daily Mirror, Sports Illustrated, Daily Mail – everywhere expressing their discontentment or at least raising eyebrows about the incident.
    • And something has to happen. Youngster Valverde didn’t get sanctioned after the incident, Korean media is saying that given how obvious this incident was, you would likely expect to him to be reprimanded in some way. Racism isn’t allowed from fans, it certainly shouldn’t be allowed in 4KTV by players. It’s a remarkable lack of discipline from a player who knows his team is just sh*t on the night.
    • Jose Pekerman, national team manager, claimed innocence saying he didn’t want to comment on things he did not see. The jury is also out on him to see how seriously he takes the incident.
    • Once again, Your Move, FIFA.

The Captain

  • The importance of Ki
    • WOW. Man of the match without a doubt. The Ki we all know and love was back. The Colombians neglected to apply much pressure on him and they paid. With Shin’s ideas being more aggressive, counter-attack/fast-break oriented ones, Ki wouldn’t be allowed to dwell on possession as much, but rather expected to provide incisive passes forward to players making surging runs. He did just that. Many thanks to Tavern reader Nick for this highlight video by the trusty HEON:

The Tactics

  • Spot-on tactics
    • As others have remarked here in the comments already as I edit, and also on forums and Twittersphere, Korea looked like Atleti today. Others are also mentioning the side’s aggressive pressing tactic gave off more of a Bielsa-feel, while many EPL observers will look at Korea’s counter-attacking emphasis in a 4-4-2 shape and get Leicester flashbacks.
    • The shape was good, as were the tactics. Toni Grande had immediate effect as national team coach, the former Spanish assistant asking Ko Yohan to play that aggressive, pesky role on James, slashing at his feet and making him angry early on.

      “Coach Grande asked me to frustrate him (James). When he retaliated at the beginning of the game, I gained confidence that I could frustrate him even more.”

    • The different roles of the wide midfielders was so important as well. Both Kwon and Lee Jaesung have bundles of energy and are layers unafraid to get stuck in. Choi Chulsoon and Kim Jinsu are light, but aggressive, mobile fullbacks. In defense, it made sense to have Kwon and Lee tuck in but be able to support their fullbacks if necessary. Going forward, the wide midfielders don’t have to make too much effort to always stay wide, as their fullbacks can support them well in that endeavour.
    • What I was getting at, however, was how Lee Jaesung enabled Ki Sungyueng, and how Kwon Changhoon and Ko Yohan made sense on the other flank. Lee’s tidy defensive work allowed the Korean captain to shun a lot of defensive work (whereas under Stielike there were games when he played as the lone defensive midfielder), while on the other flank, though Ko already had the potential to surge into spaces and temporarily morph in his usual fullback role, it made sense for him to stay at home and let Kwon do the attacking on the right side.
    • It also permitted Son Heungmin to avoid the increased defensive responsibilities he usually indulges in with the KNT. Though at the U-23 Olympics, it was welcome, Shin Taeyong’s rationale is he can only get the most out of Son on this time if he deploys him in a position that allows him to not track back and not detriment the team – something stats have been saying is an ideal scenario for years.

      “My thinking so far is that the only way to utilize Son Heung-min to his full potential is by deploying a 4-4-2.” – Shin Taeyong

  • But is the 4-4-2 viable?
    • Lee Keunho deserves a special mention, for his hustle and hard work as a more withdrawn, defensive forward. I think he, on those 45 minutes alone, has played himself into another World Cup. Veterans can be important, and more importantly, we now have options, if Shin chooses to stick with the system. A taller, more raw player in Suk Hyunjun, or a younger prospect in Hwang Heechan? How does Lee Seungwoo fit in – as a midfielder or up top? What about Lee Chungyong, if he swings into form?
    • The big question is IF Shin Taeyong will stick to the shape. That quote earlier suggests he’s bought in to his new formation (which, let’s be honest, is probably a concoction of Grande’s tactical intelligence and Shin’s knowledge of the squad), which on the night was defensively compact, suited to the opponent’s weaknesses, offensively smart and balanced. We will see if against Serbia a similar shape emerges, or if tinkerman Shin wants to keep that reputation and let his attack-minded ideas flow through another formation.
    • I, for one, think we should carry on in this 4-4-2. It worked. It’s simple. The players knew where to be and what to do. Let’s build on this strength, and maybe test out a “plan B” 3-4-3/4-2-3-1 once we know the draw and the coaching staff has some ideas about a certain opponent.

The Disclaimer

  • Colombia were absolutely jetlagged
    • Not even James looked like he had much legs on him, and save for a few minutes at the end, the Koreans were firmly on top. Some of that was tactics, but a lot of it was the opposition.
    • Pekerman was playing an experimental side, with only 4-5 players from qualifying starting in this one. That said, you can say that we got thrashed by an experimental Morocco and also keep in mind we were fully experimenting ourselves.

Statistically Korea performs far better at home than at a neutral or opposition venue:

  • If you’ll recall the match, this felt a lot like that Switzerland friendly back in 2013. A good morale boost, but the opponents weren’t as indomitable as they could have been in another world.

The First Win

It’s taken Shin Taeyong as many games (5) as Hong Myungbo to register his first win as permanent national team manager.


About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. Korea captain Ki Sung-yueng on Edwin Cardona: “The Colombians were really physical, which is normal in football, but we aren’t going to accept racist behaviors. It was disappointing to see a player on a team full of world class talents act that way.”

    “We aren’t going to accept racist behaviors”- Keep in mind that Ki himself gave the Japanese team his own monkey face a few years back:

    Cardona was wrong and should be punished. But remember that Ki never got punished for what he did. I’m Korean American with Japanese friends and the racism between those two countries is just as vile. I’m thinking it should have been someone else to speak out about it…

    • Interesting comment on the same ESPN site. Thought I’d re-post here:

      “I grew up in Buenos Aires, and my family is Korean, so I think I can put some personal perspective on this. As seen by the actions of others over recent years in sports, such as Luis Suarez’s comments towards Patrice Evra, the Spanish basketball team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and for baseball fans what Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros did during the most recent World Series: People from Hispanic countries can be quite ignorant in regards to displays of stereotypical discrimination. I wouldnt call it racism, since most of them dont think one race is superior over others.

      It’s just personal ignorance and momentary lapses into stupidity. That’s not to say everyone is like this, since majority of pro athletes from Latin America or Spain are just fine. But culturally and demographically, most Spanish speaking countries are very homogenous, thus they dont have the awareness that such actions or depictions can be offensive. A black face comic character is one of the biggest animated icons in Mexico for example. Casual discrimination is so rampant sometimes its just goes unnoticed.

      It takes public shaming for their behavior to register in their minds as inappropriate.”

      • Jon. I’m south american and I absolutely agree with you. Us south americans don’t think that one race is superior over others, well, if anything, we suffer from inferiority complex towards white people! but we certainly don’t suffer from “superiority complex”.. You’re correct, our racism (if can be called “racism”) is the result of personal ignorance..I also think this happens because minorities in latin america don’t make a big deal about racism as it occurs in North America or Europe.. On one popular argentinian sports tv show, one of the commentators’ nickname is “negro” and everybody calls him by his nickname… and he doesn’t feel offended about it…Then you have “Cholo Simeone” you know, “Cholo” means “indigenous”..

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