Monday, April 23, 2007

Birth of a Korean community-owned football club

A South Korean third division football game between Seoul United and Changwon Dudae FC at the Seoul Olympic Stadium last Saturday was a historuic event. Among the 1,200 in attendance were Korean Football Association President and FIFA Vice-President Chung Mong-joon and national team coach Pim Verbeek. "The day was all about Seoul United," explained John Duerden, Asia Editor of Goal.com. "The club’s name and its Newcastle United/Juventus-like black-and-white stripes shirts have been around the capital and its football scene since the turn of the century. That was when the idea of a “people’s club” for Seoul was born. In a K-League dominated by clubs backed by big business, those people set about creating the first club that would be run by the fans. Followers could become shareholders in Seoul United and would take the decisions.

"Dismissed as romantics and dreamers by some in the media, the game against Changwon was vindication for those who had worked so hard. It was only the first step and it will be a long time before there is a chance of seeing the black and white stripes in the top flight of Korean football."

The K3 division is an amateur league and consists of ten teams. There is, as yet, no promotion to the second tier league in the country – known as the National League. However, the KFA will allow four or six K3 clubs into the FA Cup later in the year with the chance of facing one of the big boys from the K-League. In the meantime, Seoul and Changwon drew the game 2-2.

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