How long are we going to have this stupid debate?

It’s focused on the consuming and stimulating parts. To the exclusion of what really matters.

After the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar, the controversy over coach Jürgen Klinsmann and infighting in the squad turned the Korean soccer world upside down. It was unprecedented that soccer issues, not reviews or interviews, dominated the front page of the news and everyone was interested. It’s just unfortunate that it was a negative issue. Beyond the soccer world, the political and entertainment worlds also weighed in on the issues and received national attention.

The most talked-about infighting centered around Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in. The main incident was a clash between the two most popular stars of the national team, with Lee Kang-in, a junior, punching Son Heung-min, the senior and captain. While the situation was criticized, and it’s important to understand the exact circumstances and whether or not disciplinary action was taken, too much attention was focused on this aspect. While squad infighting has happened in every generation of national teams, this was the first time it was officially recognized by the Korean Football Association, and it spread like wildfire.

A big problem was the creation of consuming rumors with the names of Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in. A typical example is ‘Lee Kang-in didn’t give Son Heung-min a pass against Jordan’. The story that Lee Kang-in didn’t pass to Son Heung-min even when he could have given him a pass because he felt bad for him came out as a fact. It’s a story that’s too time-consuming to refute, but many media outlets cited these stories from the community and reported them as fact.

In addition to this example, rumors of the “now that I think about it?” type continue to appear. Lee Kang-in’s throwing water bottles at his teammates or not shaking hands with them are other examples of “now that I think about it…” rumors. Instead of reporting on the scene or hearing the story firsthand, they spread the community’s reactions as if they were true, focusing all the attention and blame on the athletes.

As I said earlier, a junior taking a jab at a senior, and a clash before an important game, deserves to be criticized. Criticize what’s true, but there’s no reason to blame athletes for so-called “brainfeeding” rumors. The Korean Football Association, which deserves more attention and criticism for its sensationalized rumors, is out of the picture.

The KFA’s actions after the sacking of Klinsmann are the most important thing in Korean soccer right now, and it’s unfortunate that the focus is still on blaming the players and generating rumors to make it an immediate issue.

I hope the KFA will focus more on criticizing its mismanagement and unrealistic management methods and voice their opinions for improvement. The arrows of criticism should be directed at the KFA, not the players. Infighting and rumor-mongering at a crucial juncture that could determine whether or not the bruised and battered Korean football team can get back on the path of progress under Klinsmann is, quite frankly, not worth the time. The soccer world should take the lead.


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