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With his experience overseas and preparation for the future, Hong Myoung-bo thinks even the presidency of FIFA would be possible

With his experience overseas and preparation for the future, Hong Myoung-bo thinks even the presidency of FIFA would be possible

Posted February. 01, 2004 22:53,   


‘Eternal Libero’ Hong Myoung-bo (35-year-old, LA Galaxy) is a soccer player who studies hard. He always studies to prepare for any possibilities, even though he has not decided to become a soccer administrator or a coach. We met him at the Hilton Hotel when he returned to Korea temporarily to take his thesis qualifying examination for his master’s degree in physical exercise at Korea University.

# Only those who prepare for the future will take it.

“I don’t think that I can’t become the President of FIFA. I can do anything because I am still young. But it can’t be possible if I am not ready.”

Hong says that he plays in MLS (Major League Soccer) at such a late age in order to learn English. He believes that he can’t do anything in a global stage if his English-speaking skills are poor.

It was as an investment into his future that he took the examination to enter a master’s program in 2000, when he played for Kashiwa Reysol in Japan. He finally finished the course after returning to Korea and the school in 2000.

He has read books steadily while he received credit by submitting reports in the States through the university. He plans to go into a doctorate program once he writes the thesis for his master’s degree in sports physiology.

# He regrets not studying more in his youth.

“I have never regretted that I became a soccer player, however, I feel sorry that I didn’t care about my studies during my school days. I hope that young players will focus on both soccer and also study to become a balanced player.

He sometimes feels uneasy when he sees young American players. It reminds him of young Korean players who ruins their careers since they know nothing but soccer.

“In America, kids play soccer as their hobbies. On the other hand, kids are also taught that soccer is everything for them in Korea. Especially young kids have to play soccer not for results, but for fun. A coach should let kids have a chance to study so as that they can start a new life in case they can’t play soccer anymore.”

Hong also regrets that he couldn’t get acquainted with friends since he was so devoted to soccer in his school days.

# Korean Soccer should be professional

“It is said that Korean Soccer is now in a crisis. All coaches, administrators and players should be armed with a professional outlook. Coaches have to be responsible for a team’s defeat and Administrators should make efforts not to fall through in supporting them. Needless to say, players should have strong minds to win a game.”

Commenting on Coach Umberto Cohelo, Hong said, “He doesn’t deserve to be coach if he places blame upon players.”

“I have never met Cohelo. My statement was a kind of theoretical. I’m not in the situation to evaluate the current Korean national team. I expect that Cohelo will drill players through mistakes and errors just as Hiddink did. I have noticed that Hiddink leads players with his charisma but Cohelo is more liberal. Korea soccer won’t be developed unless it does not become accustomed to Cohelo’s style. Korea will always have to seek a man like Hiddink.”

# Star players should contribute more to a society

“The power of stars is enormous. They have to keep their eyes on the needy people. I will continue to support unfortunate youths.”

In 1997, Hong built a scholarship committee named after him and has provided unfortunate students with scholarship money. He also organized a friendly match last year for assisting kids who suffered from a cancer, in which many World-Cup stars participated. He says that most foreign star players create scholarship foundations to send benefits back to the society, but there aren’t many cases in Korea. Consequently, he intends to open the game for charity every year and expand his scholarship program.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com