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World Cup Fever Hits the Globe

Posted May. 31, 2002 08:43,   


On the 30th, only a day left for the World Cup, the whole world is becoming one big `World Cup village`. All football fans are joining the festival by going beyond the nationality and time differences to share one heartbeat.

Poland, which is to have its first match with Korea in 4 days, is feeling nervous about the Korean team’s rapid growth in strength.

“There are many Polish people who watched the match between Korea and France. They are surprised by Korea’s growth, and are concentrating attention on the June 4 match,” introduced councilor Kwon Tae-Myung at the Korean embassy in Poland (ambassador Song Min-Sun).

Culture Science Palace (37 stories) in Warszawa installed a large screen inside the building, and plans to invite diplomats to watch the Korean match together. The Korean embassy is also to install a large TV in the ambassador’s residence and invite overseas Koreans (approximately 300).

The embassy is also taking measures against possible hooligan riot in case Poland loses in the Korea-Poland match.

Relatively cold U.S.A., compared to Europe or South America, is gradually becoming hot with the soccer fever, as the World Cup is drawing near.

USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times have either produced special sections for the overall World Cup or delivered special articles.

3 major broadcasters of ABC, CBS, and NBC, news channels like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, and sports channels like ESPN all reported about the World Cup preparation and game outlooks in detail.

The biggest interest of the U.S. press is the national team’s advancement to the final 16. Analysis says that the advancement is possible with the record of 1 win-1 draw-1 loss, if the team ties with Poland and defeats Korea.

However, most of the Americans are more interested in the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs and Major League Baseball than the World Cup. Thus, ESPN and ABC authorities, who are to deliver 57 out of 64 matches live, are growing in anxiety.

Japanese newspapers filled the front pages on the 30th with Seoul-pictures of the opening ceremony rehearsal, tight security system, a woman kissing the World Cup trophy, or a headline that said `Finally Opens Tomorrow`.

They also included each group’s player list, special articles of each team’s analysis, and TV program schedules of major matches during the World Cup.

Broadcasters also began World Cup related programs from 5 a.m. on the day under titles like `Japan’s latest information`, `Each country’s secret information before World Cup`, `Opening tomorrow-lodgings of each country’s cheering squads`, and `Before World Cup, Japan is`. 6 broadcasters prepared total of 25 World Cup related programs on the day alone.

`One victory, at least!`

This is what China is hoping for, as it enters the World Cup finals for the first time. Major Chinese papers competed against each other in covering the World Cup, as some produced 20-page special editions everyday for the past 10 days, or provided detailed analysis of the Chinese team and each national team.

Chinese football fans from 8 major cities made 180,000 paper cranes and delivered them to the Chinese football association on the 30th, hoping for good outcomes. Famous singers, entertainers, and some 20,000 people gathered at a large concert in Beijing on the 29th to cheer for the Chinese team.

The team warned against over-expectations by admitting, “We can’t deny that we are new and weak in the World Cup,” in the message sent to Chinese fans before leaving on the 22nd. Chinese presses also seem doubtful about the team’s advancement to the final 16.

France was overwhelmed in a big shock upon hearing that Zinedine Zidane is to miss the opening match with Senegal due to injury. While daily reporting about Zidane’s injury, recovery, and his participation, French newspapers and broadcasters are expressing concerns that dream of `consecutive World Cup championship` may burst in a bubble.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) executive committee warned EU football fans against foot-and-mouth disease that they must be careful especially in remote provinces.

Moscow’s city government decided to broadcast World Cup matches on large screens in the Pushkin Square and Arbat Street, as mayor Juriy Luzhkov, football fan himself, handed down an urgent order to do so.

Moscow’s restaurants and nightclubs are to entertain football fans by installing large screens and employing cheerleaders during the World Cup. They have said to provide customers with special World Cup menus at special discounts and free beer each time the Russian team scores a goal.

konihong@donga.com ksshim@donga.com