Ok, so Park Chu-Young didn’t see action midweek. No sweat, Watford at home vs Middlesbrough Saturday could see the first significant time on the pitch this season for the Arsenal loanee. Let’s see the weekend listings for Feb 14-15, courtesy of Korean Footballers Abroad (all times in US EST / US Broadcasts) :
|Park Ji Sung
|Koo Ja Cheol
|Park Joo Ho
|Ki Sung Yueng
|Southampton (FA Cup)
|Fox Sports 2
|Lee Chung Yong
|Kim Bo Kyung
|Wigan (FA Cup)
|Fox Sports 2
|Park Chu Young
|Son Heung Min
|Hong Jeong Ho
|Ji Dong Won
We’ll update in a moment – the Tavern kids are running amok. Schools in central Maryland closed and we’re still digging out from 2 feet of ‘noone’ (snow as opposed to Kim Bo-Kyung’s team mate Craig Noone). Thus you may see fragments developing on the fly…
- And if you haven’t seen Jae’s earlier post today – we are opening the Tavern Mailbag again. Here’s Jae on it: “Your question(s) can be in regards to basically anything. South Korea, Korean football, the K League, football in general, whatever you want to ask (but keep it clean please).” Tavern writers will answer back towards the end of the month.
- Friday will potentially see Park Ji-Sung (Man of the Match for PSV Eindhoven last weekend), Koo Ja-Cheol and Park Joo-Ho in action today. KNT coach Hong Myong-Bo apparently is on the move in Europe:
— 1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V. (@Mainz05en) February 11, 2014
- Midweek – Bayer Leverkusen suffered a surprising 0-1 Dfb Pokal Cup loss to Bundesliga.2 outfit Kaiserslautern. The game went into overtime, the winning goal in the 114th minute. Son Heung-Min played all 120 minutes -registered 2 shots and a yellow card in the final minute. Meanwhile Kim Bo-Kyung not in the 18 for Cardiff -a scoreless draw with Aston Villa. Lee Chung-Yong played well in 90 minutes for Bolton, but disappointingly lost 0-1 to Burnley. Park Chu-Young on the bench for Watford -they managed to win 1-0 at home to Birmingham. Our guess: Watford manager Giuseppe Sannino wanted to take full precaution as Park just returned from being out with a minor knee injury.
- Which brings us to Wednesday’s surprise cancellation of the Manchester City / Sunderland game due to spectacularly nasty weather – actually Manchester City and local authorities postponed it due to “exceptional and escalating weather…The safety of those in around and travelling to the stadium complex cannot be guaranteed.” Here’s Sunderland’s twitpic from the locker room right after the announcement:
Players exit the away dressing room at the Etihad Stadium and await the team bus to take them back to Wearside pic.twitter.com/0Ug5NBwtEe
— Sunderland AFC (@SAFCofficial) February 12, 2014
Unusual to cancel a match simply for weather -though it’s not unheard of, major snowstorms have forced postponements in the past. Still, this has been an extraordinary weather system that’s battered the UK since late December. Thousands have been evacuated along the coasts – homes are underwater as parts of the Thames river is currently in a critical flood stage. It’s been so much so that the Met Office, the UK’s official weather service has come out with data that shows evidence that climate change is the culprit. Has man made pollution affected football elsewhere?
[We will return momentarily -the Tavern kids are playing havok with the bathroom -Ai-guh-nah…] and we’re back- let’s get down to business for our Tavern kickaround discussion on:
Climate Change, Pollution and Korean football
Seeing pictures of Beijing enveloped in otherworldly smog has the look of some kind of dystopian film setting -except that the future depicted is now -ground zero China. A seemingly contrary concoction of bleak Orwellian authoritarianism mixed with laissez faire capitalism? Check – with unfettered pollution as a result. Doesn’t take rocket science to finger the trigger – the consequence of China’s meteoric economic progress over the past decade. Things are so desperate that the Washington Post reported on some wacky solutions are being looked at. Here’s one of them: “Officials are looking at washing away air pollution with artificial rain or sucking it up with giant vacuum cleaners.”
Hearing recently that Park Jong-Woo moved to Chinese side Guangzhou R&F from Busan, joining other Koreans already in China like Guangzhou Evergrande center-back Kim Young Kwon, I couldn’t help thinking about a Tavern podcast that I’m procrastinating on editing. But then it hit me: Jae asked in the podcast if there are potential blowback to China’s positing themselves as a new Asian football power -the best that sh*itloads of money can buy. If importing Korean and K-League foreign talent is one trend happening in Chinese football lately, it’s now fair to ask -could the performances of players that has to rely on exceptional cardio vascular fitness in the long-term be affected by China’s epic bad air quality? Check this twitter pic from a Chinese Super cup game yesterday:
— Peter Davis (@peteydavis) February 17, 2014
Looking at an even bigger regional picture -does China’s air pollution mess with other Asian countries – and in particular with athletes training in Korea? With Jae stationed in Busan, I asked him, does Beijing and the surrounding region’s air pollution push into Korea significantly or perhaps during certain seasons? If so, are people advised to wear masks or stay indoors – or even for athletes to exercise indoors?
Jae’s response: Yes, the pollution does come over to Korea every year, particularly during winter seasons. This past year supposedly was particularly bad, especially in Seoul. Scientists in California have even traced particles there back to China. Koreans refer to it as “yellow dust” and when it gets really bad people are advised to stay in or wear masks. It doesn’t usually get too bad in Busan, but on some days you can definitely see smog or a yellow cloud in the air.
He didn’t want to be quoted on this but I will since I’m evil like that — he seemed to think that the air pollution storms coming abroad was also becoming more frequent. [[[Jae: between us we’re all good, right? right? uh oh…]]]
We don’t have hard scientific data on the short and long term consequences for Korean (or for that matter any) athletes who are breathing this air while training and plying the trade in China. However, Captain Obvious is probably right when he says “it sucks to be an athlete on bad pollution days in China – which is measurably and frequently terrible.” When the science data does comes in – it will be quite telling what impact it will have, in particular for professional athletics. I’m willing to bet that while in the short term, money can buy China some success in Asia, unless they are able to get their athletes to live and train in bubbles 24/7, they’ll run out of oxygen -literally. Not to live in constant fear, but if I had to add one more thing to worry about on top of everything else, Korean athletes are included in the list impacted – and unless the behemoth that is China reforms itself environmentally, the air pollution trends will not only have side consequences for Korea, it will likely contribute to man made climate changing weather patterns around the world. Dystopian nightmares tonight? You’re quite welcome.
- For Saturday TV horizon, the English FA Cup TV rights in the US are held by Fox Sports – thus a more limited ability to see the matches. Check with your TV/cable network to see if you carry the FOX Sports 2 channel.