Thursday, March 02, 2006

South Korea studies K-League football fan "frenzy"

The Korean Football Association is conducting its first "trend study" on South Korean professional football fans in the years 1998-2002 to learn more about the causes of local "soccer booms" and their demises. "It is a timely effort as the 2006 World Cup and another soccer frenzy approaches. K-League officials have been complaining that Korean fans are only interested in the national soccer team. Some are even worried that the national soccer team might kill Korean pro league soccer," Jong-Koo Yang commented at Donga newsagency.

After the 1998 World Cup, the popularity of football in South Korea soared and the era was dubbed “the renaissance of Korean professional soccer.” Veteran players like Seo Jeong-won, Kim Do-hun and Kim Byeong-ji and rising stars such as Goh Jong-su, Lee Dong-guk and others filled the stands with fans. This "frenzy" simmered down, only to be rekindled threefold by the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup in which Korea made the final four. But that too died down.

"Hopefully," Jong-Koo Yang wrote, "Korean pro league soccer will be able to capitalize on the soccer frenzy and minimize the negative effect that World Cup aftermath will have on its popularity. The World Cup is an opportunity for the pro league to grow. Perhaps this time, we can prevent history from repeating itself."

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