[EDITORIALS]Soccer clash hurts Korea

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[EDITORIALS]Soccer clash hurts Korea

With the opening of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan just five months away, the two chief members of the Korean Organizing Committee for the World Cup are engaged in ugly mudslinging for the chairmanship of the soccer panel. The fight makes us doubt whether Korea can smoothly play host to the greatest sporting event held here since the Olympics.

The Korea Football Association has stepped in, adopting a resolution that the current co-chairmanship of the World Cup Organizing Committee, shared by Chung Mong-joon and Lee Yun-taek, is riddled with problems, complaining that the association is denied a role in the management of the World Cup committee. In short, the soccer association claims that the Korean Organizing Committee for the World Cup must be headed only by Mr. Chung, the association's chief. The organizing committee held an emergency meeting to refute the resolution, arguing that it will maintain the current system because there was no friction between its two chairmen and the committee is assuming a lot of responsibility.

When the World Cup committee was launched with a co-chairmanship 14 months ago, the government argued that a wagon driven by "two horses" can reach its destination faster than one led by one horse. Mr. Chung was put in charge of the committee's international affairs; Mr. Lee was to oversee its domestic business. Even at that time, critics were concerned about disorder in the committee's leadership.

The current fracas is nothing more than a fight over an influential position. The two organizations seem to regard the chairmanship of the World Cup committee as a key post with money and power, not as an honorary job or public service. Such a mind-set compares with that of the committee's Japanese counterpart, where both the chairmanship and vice chairmanship are nonstanding honorary posts, while the general secretary, a top working-level official, is in charge of the overall command.

The schism within the committee benefits Japan, the co-host of the World Cup and our rival. Considering that not much time is left, the government must be quick to solve the dispute.

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