Ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, there’s a problem with Hwang Sun-hong’s departure. This is because of the past behavior of defender Lee Sang-min (23-Seongnam FC), who made the final roster of the national soccer team. He was controversial because he played three matches for Chungnam Asan after being arrested by the police for driving under the influence of alcohol, a crime that would have gotten him kicked out early if he were in the entertainment industry. The fact that he kept it under wraps for a long time without informing the club shocked soccer fans even more. This is why Hwang Sun-hong is being criticized.
There is another reason for the public outcry. In the future, players who have caused social problems by drinking and driving can receive special military service benefits. This raises the question of whether he deserves to represent his country under the flag.
Head coach Hwang Sun-hong has also been criticized for selecting Lee Sang-min despite knowing this. Hwang hasn’t stopped calling up Lee since the U-23 national team in 2021. Some may argue that Hwang’s decision was justified because the player had already served his punishment (15-match suspension and 4 million won in fines) from the KFA’s punishment committee. There are also allegations that Hwang secretly selected him to the Asian Games team two years ago while keeping a close eye on public opinion.
It’s not that I don’t understand Hwang’s position. Not only is it difficult to find a player who fits his style in the K League, but it is also quite difficult to coordinate the transfer of players with clubs. In the meantime, the discovery of Lee Sang-min must have been a difficult choice for Hwang to give up. In that sense, the Korean Football Association is not immune from this controversy.
First of all, the KFA should have looked at the association-wide ‘Regulations of the National Football Team’ for Lee Sang-min. Article 17 (Discipline and Disqualification), paragraph 4 of the regulation states, “A person who has been punished under Article 148(2) of the 메이저토토사이트 Road Traffic Act for an act related to drunk driving, etc. and who falls under any of the following items is not eligible to be a national team member. A person who has been sentenced to a fine of 5 million won or more and has not passed three years since the sentence was finalized, or a person who has been sentenced to a fine of less than 5 million won and has not passed two years since the sentence was finalized. Lee Sang-min boarded the Hwangseon Hongho less than a year after his drunk driving offense, so there is no excuse for the Football Association.
The national soccer team has a lot more leeway than other sports. When the team was selected for two A matches against Peru and El Salvador last month, public opinion was heated. At the time, Park Yong-woo, Jung Seung-hyun, Lee Kyu-sung, and Lee Myung-jae (all of Ulsan Hyundai) were accused of “racism” in their social media posts. The KFA held a punishment committee and handed down a one-game suspension and a 15 million won ($15,000) fine to the three except for Jeong Seung-hyun. According to the K League’s punishment rules, racist behavior can result in severe penalties such as suspension for 10 games or more. In any case, it was proof that the matter was not taken lightly.
However, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann not only named Park Yong-woo and Jung Seung-hyun to the roster, but also allowed them to play in both games. “Everyone can make mistakes. It’s the role of the coach to help them grow as human beings,” Klinsmann said, explaining his decision to play them. He’s right. But this was a national anthem, not an intramural game, not early soccer, not even a professional game. And it was less than a week after the controversy broke.
While the selection of players for the national team is the domain of the coach, if it is controversial at the final stage, it should be reconsidered. That’s what soccer federations are for. The eyes and ears of the public are open to the process of selecting the national team. However, the KFA is still failing to gather public opinion. This is despite the recent controversy over the apology of Football Association President Chung Mong-kyu and the resignation of the entire board of directors. Despite the media’s promises of change, nothing seems to have changed.
In fact, it’s not the first time that a national team has been marred by controversy, whether it’s over drunk driving, bullying, or dating violence. In March, the national baseball team hung its head in shame after being eliminated from the World Baseball Classic (WBC). At the same time, a new face emerged: Ahn Woo-jin (24, Kiwoom Heroes), currently one of the best pitchers in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
Ahn was punished by the Korea Baseball and Softball Organization for violence in high school when he made his professional debut in 2018. She is ineligible for the Olympics and Asian Games, which are organized by the Korean Sports Federation. He would have been eligible for the WBC, where the KBO fielded a team, but the KBO technical committee ultimately rejected him. This was in response to the public outcry over school violence.
“I have no regrets about that decision (not selecting Ahn),” Lee Kang-cheol said at his return press conference. Ahn’s name wasn’t even on the final roster of the baseball team for the Hangzhou Asian Games announced last month.
The men’s national volleyball team had hoped to win the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup this month, but ended up finishing third. By failing to reach the final, their hopes of returning to the world stage were dashed. Back in May, the team was full of confidence, especially with the presence of Jeong Ji-seok (28-Korean Air). It is no exaggeration to say that Jeong is the best attacker in Korea. His offensive and defensive skills, as well as his ability to serve, have earned him recognition in the domestic league.
However, his inclusion in the national team was controversial among volleyball fans. On May 6, last year, Jeong was suspended by the Korean Volleyball Association (KVA) from the national team for one year due to the “dating violence” controversy. The volleyball association reinstated him exactly one year later. However, there was no ‘suspension effect’. In addition, the names of sisters Lee Jae-young and Lee Da-young, who recently left the domestic league amid a “bullying” controversy, were mentioned in the disastrous performance of the women’s national volleyball team, which went undefeated in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL).
There are also those who say that the ethical and moral standards for athletes are unusually high. It may be natural based on the spirit of sports. This is because the basic value of sports is to play fairly and follow the rules. Therefore, the weight of the national team is even heavier. That’s why Son Heung-min and Kim Yeon-kyung say, “For the sake of the nation…” with a sense of mission and responsibility.