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[Opinion] Premier League

Posted June. 23, 2005 06:04,   


BBC, the royal family, Shakespeare, Manchester United, James Bond movies…. These are some of the cultural products that Britons have chosen to be as representative of their country. In a British government poll conducted a few years ago, 40 percent of the respondents picked BBC as the most representative of their nation, while the professional football team Manchester United was ranked fifth behind Shakespeare. This shows how popular soccer is in Britain. Brits often head for the soccer field on the weekends. No wonder soccer fans are sometimes called “soccer-followers” as opposed to church-goers.

Some even say if you want to know “the real” Britain, you should visit a soccer field before you go to the British Museum. There is an explosive energy hidden behind the calm, polite, gentlemanly manners of the British people and the place to witness that energy is the soccer field, they say. A separate set of laws is in place to manage the hooligans who turn the soccer fields into an uproar, which hints at the Brits’ passion for the sport. The British police confiscated over 1,000 passports of hooligans during the Korea-Japan World Cup 2002.

The British professional soccer history expands over 100 years. It started out with 12 clubs in 1889 and has been using the name Premier League since the 1992-93 Season. The 20 teams that make up the Premier League are tourist attractions themselves, serving as a pillar of the municipal economy. Manchester United for instance recorded total sales of 157 million pounds, or about 287.5 billion won, in the 2003-04 Season alone. Italy’s Serie A and Spain`s Premera Liga (The Premier League) are also considered “big,” but are no match to Britain’s Premier League.

Park Ji-sung, the 2002 World Cup hero, became the first Korean Premier League player. And not just in any team, but the Manchester United. Park joined Man U two and a half years after his debut in the European stage through Guus Hiddink’s PSV Eindhoven. How many sleepless nights will Korean soccer fans spend to watch Park play? I look forward to those nights already.

Song Dae-geun, Editorial Writer, dksong@donga.com