Big gaps in Korea’s soccer mementos

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Big gaps in Korea’s soccer mementos

The soccer ball used during the historic match between Korea and Italy at the 2002 World Cup has returned to the peninsula thanks to the generosity of Byron Moreno. The Ecuadorian referee in that game took the ball with him with FIFA’s permission, and later donated it to a local collector.
But questions linger about why the ball left the country to begin with.
Officials with FIFA, World Cup soccer’s governing body, and sponsors expressed interest in keeping the ball after the game, in which Korea edged its opponent 2-1 to gain a quarterfinal berth. But officials with the Korea Football Association did not come forward at the time to try and preserve the historic ball.
Kim Dong-dae, an official with Korea’s soccer organization, admits that no one thought about the ball.
“The game ball that was used in the game against Spain is lost as well,” Mr. Kim says. “We can only regret that such soccer memorabilia of importance cannot be recovered.”
At the small soccer museum squeezed onto the first floor of the Korea Football Association’s office in Jongno, downtown Seoul, there’s only a smattering of soccer memorabilia, such as soccer balls from the old days when they were made of leather or straw ropes ― and even these items were recently donated, by Lee Jae-hyeong, a soccer memorabilia collector.
Some of the trophies won at international championships such as the Kings Cup are missing, and as of yet the organization does not have a department or personnel that keeps track of soccer items bearing historical or special value.
Reportedly it has been customary for high-ranking officials at the KFA to take records and other material as retirement gifts.

by Jeong Young-jae
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