Korean soccer is rapidly collapsing in the head-to-head confrontation with its rival, Japan. In the past two and a half years, from national team A to national teams by age group, they suffered 5 consecutive 0-3 defeats. Why does Korean football, which is advancing in its own way, such as reaching the round of 16 at the Qatar World Cup last year, give up helplessly when it encounters only Japan? In Part 3, I looked at the causes and alternatives.
28 versus 136.
It is the difference in the size of European 토토사이트 soccer players between Korea and Japan. This summer, Cho Kyu-seong (Mitwillan) moved to Denmark, and Yang Hyun-jun and Kwon Hyuk-gyu (above Celtic) moved to Scotland, but the gap is still large.
Ahead of the opening of the 2023-24 season, the number of players (based on adult contracts) registered in the 1st and 2nd division teams of the 4 major European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy) is 9 in Korea and 27 in Japan, a threefold difference. If expanded to the entire European league, the number will increase to 28 (Korea) versus 136 (Japan). If Korea can make a little more than 2 teams with Europeans, Japan can make up to 12 teams.
As the number of Europeans increased rapidly, Japan established a branch of the Japan Football Association in Düsseldorf, Germany in 2020 to manage its own players. In Japan, the soccer world is working together to ‘expand the European group’. There are 35 Japanese players in Germany’s 1st to 4th divisions.
Head coach Philippe Troussier, who led Japan at the 2002 World Cup, said, “If Japanese soccer plays at least 30 players, including the first and second divisions in Europe, it will be possible to make it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup,” but now it is more than four times that number.
Players are actively advancing into Europe. It is common for Japanese J-League players to advance to small and medium leagues in Europe while lowering their salaries with the determination to ‘leave to study soccer’. It is compared to Korean players who are active in going to the Middle East or China by prioritizing conditions such as high salaries. A Japanese soccer player hinted, “In Japan, it is embarrassing for a young player to go to the Middle East for money.”
Clubs, football associations, and companies are also helping to go to Europe with one mind. For a long time, there has been a custom in the Japanese football world to charge only a small amount, about one year’s salary, as a transfer fee for a player who wants to advance to Europe. When Shinji Kagawa, who played an active role in Japanese football in the past, moved from Cerezo Osaka to Dortmund (Germany) in 2010, the transfer fee was only 350,000 euros (500 million won). In the case of Japanese national team midfielder Daichi Kamada, who joined Lazio (Italy) from Frankfurt (Germany) this summer, the Japanese sporting goods company Mizuno will pay the difference in salary.
Some in the soccer world cite the issue of military service as the reason why Korean players are relatively passive about going to Europe. It is argued that even if you have sufficient skills, if you cannot solve the military problem, you will have to return to Korea and enlist before the age of 27, so you are hesitant to take on the challenge. 7 out of 30 footballers cited the ‘difference in European size’ as the reason why Korean football was overtaken by Japan.
Former Olympic team coach Kim Hak-beom said, “For young players to freely challenge the European stage, the existing military service benefit method, which relies only on international competition results, is inevitable.” Could he have been the top scorer in the league?” he asked. Lee Hoi-taek, former vice president of the Korea Football Association, said, “Soccer is a team sport played by 11 players. It is difficult for 3 world-class players to beat 30 top-class players. Korean football should also send more players to the European stage to help them build skills and experience.”