Friday, July 01, 2005

K-League needs more media exposure

“These are happy days for South Korean soccer fans. The national team has qualified for the 2006 World Cup, one of its best players has joined a top club, a teenager is one of the biggest stars in the country and the K-League is wide-open,” writes soccer commentator John Duerden before offering five suggestions to “keep Korea's favorite sport dynamic”.

These include: (1) Make the most of Park Ji Sung moving to Manchester United; (2) Try to keep Park Chu Young in Korea; (3) Back Jo Bonfrere; and (4) Play some high class friendlies -- don't be afraid to lose.

His fifth point touches upon the issue of media coverage of domestic competitions which is echoed throughout the Asian Football Confederation: “K-League media exposure”. Mr Duerden writes:

While the coverage of live games has improved, it is still erratic and unpredictable, sometimes matches are shown, sometimes not. What is needed is a stable, accessible and reliable television program that is on the same time every week -- a highlights show.

How fantastic would it be to turn on the television at 9 p.m. every Sunday evening to watch an hour-long review of the day's action? Soon millions of people could be familiar with the K-League teams, players and managers. The goals, near misses, fouls, red cards and interviews would all contribute to make an exciting easy to watch package for any budding fan.

Of course, live games are necessary but a basic highlights show provides the grounding for making the K-League a truly popular nationwide event -- look at the BBC's Saturday night show, "Match of the Day", a hugely popular national institution.

John Duerden is a London School of Economics graduate and freelance journalist living in Seoul. He specializes in Asian soccer and covers that subject for the English soccer magazine '442.'