Coach firing is a head-scratcherFootball fans were confounded by the sudden sacking of national football team head coach Cho Kwang-rae. It remains unclear why the Korea Football Association asked Cho to step down just two months ahead of the final match against Kuwait in February to win qualification for the World Cup. Hwangbo Kwan, head of the KFA’s technical committee, said in a press conference that Cho was asked to resign because it was uncertain if the Korean team would advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil under Cho’s leadership, based on how the team had previously performed.
The national team lost against Japan 0-3 in August and 1-2 against Lebanon last month. The latter defeat was disappointing as it should have been an easy win considering Lebanon’s 146th world ranking. Cho has been under fire for domineering management and an experimental technical strategy that failed to unify players. But the national team under Cho’s leadership had not fared poorly with a track record of 11 wins, five draws and three defeats. If the association wanted to replace the head coach, it should have presented a reason that fans could comprehend.
On top of lacking grounds, the process of sacking Cho was also against reason. The technical committee that handles appointments and dismissals of national team coaches had not even convened. Instead of initiating the decision, KFA chairman Cho Chung-yun agreed to the proposal by the technical committee chief and the deputy chief. The committee members should have reached a decision by consensus if it wanted to avoid controversy.
Rumors are rampant that Cho was victimized in an internal feud over the election to pick the next KFA chairman. Major sports brands and sponsoring broadcasters are also under suspicion of pressuring the KFA to replace Cho to ensure the national team’s advance to the World Cup. The KFA has a duty to answer these questions to the multitude of football fans and the public. Administration decisions dealing with the national football team must be crystal clear because the team’s play depends on the support of the Korean public.