After celebrating the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the details and results of the Colombia-Uruguay A match in March were buried in an unexpected maelstrom. On the day of the match, the Korean Football Association held a board meeting and announced that it would pardon 100 footballers, including suspended match-fixers.
The decision to amnesty the soccer world had a huge aftermath. Social outrage ensued. The memories of crying out for justice at unnecessary social cost, which sounded the alarm in our society, disappeared with a single amnesty decision.
The criticism was twofold. Who made this decision, Chairman Chung Mong-kyu? Critics accused him of being a footballer without a conscience, but it was not clear who they were. The entire board of directors resigned, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
Chung’s decision-making style was also criticized. The reason given for the amnesty was that the soccer world was celebrating after reaching the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar. Calls for Chung’s resignation poured in. Eventually, Chung said he would meet with many people to listen to public opinion, and as a result, a new executive committee was formed. In this process, Han Joon-hee, a familiar commentator to the public, and former Sports Seoul editor-in-chief Kim Kwon-seok, a retired journalist, were appointed as part-time vice presidents as a gesture of communication.
One month into the board reshuffle
We’ve made it clear that we don’t want to see a board of directors that’s just playing games again. However, one question mark in the public opinion gathering process is still ongoing. This is the “unjustified suspicion” that the soccer association has not been able to properly promote its own policies to the public or the media. The question mark is whether it’s possible that a criticized policy is okay as long as it’s well publicized.
As a result, the soccer federation put out an announcement for a new head of communications, with a two-day deadline for applications. The choice of who will take the reins of the organization’s public relations will depend on internal selection criteria and a strong self-presentation by applicants.
The hiring process is similar to that of a private company. If you pass the initial screening, you will be interviewed by the general manager and the head of the administrative support team, who will also be interviewed in English due to the organization’s international work. If you pass, you will be interviewed by the full-time vice president, and if you pass, you will have a final interview with the president. It is expected that the candidate’s ability to verbalize the desired public relations strategy and present a vision will be key.
Interestingly, this is the first time since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup that the federation has even issued a press release to hire a PR chief. This is even more so in that there has never been a precedent for a general recruitment or career postings to include only resources that specialize in public relations. While there are various interpretations, it is clear that the KFA has admitted that it has failed to convince the public of its decisions by failing to properly promote them. Both soccer fans and the media have criticized Chung and the KFA for their “lack of communication” with the public.
For example. During the March match against Colombia at the Munsu Soccer Stadium in Ulsan, the Colombian national team did not show up when they were supposed to warm up. They showed up 20 minutes before kickoff and were still on the field at 8:00. The game didn’t start until nearly 30 minutes later. If the soccer federation had practiced common sense PR in this process, the situation would have been communicated to the PR team by a staff member who heard about it from a liaison officer in Colombia, and the PR team would have responded by text message.
Instead, it was not known until the start of the game, and after repeated phone calls, it was finally confirmed that the tardiness was due to traffic jams. Although it ended in a happy ending, it showed the lack of a public relations strategy and system to communicate the situation. Of course, I understand that it is difficult for the staff to respond to the A-match because they are busy with other tasks, but it was unfortunate to see that there is no control tower that controls the entire event.
Will a new head of PR solve the ‘lack of PR’ problem?
In the long run, those who led public relations under Chairman Chung Mong-joon (now Chairman Emeritus) have either returned to HHI, taken on other roles as a result of disciplinary action for misconduct, or left for other organizations after retirement. Most of the employees who studied public relations under them are either scattered due to the reshuffling of the association’s staff after the World Cup in Qatar, or are working on tasks that do not match their talents.
In any organization, there is a handover process to ensure continuity of work, but public relations, which has intangible relationships and is measured by tangible content (articles, video productions, etc.), is often the one that does not shine. It’s common knowledge among fans that in the age of new media and a variety of ways to stay in touch with an association, public relations is no longer simply a matter of asking, “Why didn’t we stop the article that was harmful to the organization?”. It’s a stinging indictment of the so-called “off-fluid narrative.
The use of ‘professional indefinite contracts’ still feels like a sign that the federation is taking its PR work lightly. Although there is no difference between regular and non-regular employees, it seems difficult to avoid the fact that even if the tenure is guaranteed, it is still an unstable status, and if you do not perform well and receive a failing grade, you will have to continue working with anxiety.
Even if you assume that this is due to the association’s salary system, it is even more so when you consider that you have to do a wide range of work, such as responding to inquiries from many media outlets, government affairs, and discussions with related organizations. Under the headings of “public relations and media strategy” and “overseeing planning work,” the association has already listed a huge list of tasks for the head of the public relations office, including “publicizing association policies and institutional improvements, responding to the media, managing access to reporters, supporting interviews, writing press releases, and supporting the media for each national team.
It’s true that with responsibility comes responsibility. Just like a private company’s PR team, everyone in the PR team should know the level of situational judgment and factual knowledge to at least understand and explain the company’s policies and detailed situations, and there should be standards for what is public and what is private. This means that it is not enough to simply post a statement on the association’s website saying, “This is what it is,” and then explain it.
It’s A-Match Season Again… Clear Reflection, Organizational and Policy Review Needed Before Aggressive Promotion
In recent years, association public relations has tended to focus on communicating national team news. The public is already interested not only in the results of the national team, but also in the appointment of executives, board members, and social institutions such as the youth development system. It’s a world where the amount of money, in-kind support, and even the size of the sponsorship deals are compared to other countries.
President Chung’s mid- and long-term policies (five major initiatives, 10 policies, and 32 action items), called the “Vision Hat Trick,” which were celebrated with great fanfare at the KFA’s 80th anniversary in 2013, are beginning to see results (such as the introduction of the 8-a-side game and the construction of a football center), while others have failed (such as entering international organizations and hosting major international tournaments). Ten years on, it’s time for the federation to take stock of how things have gone and what’s missing.
It’s that time of year again, the June A match. It’s a time of renewed national interest. With the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals already underway in Argentina, interest is high, and players such as Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton) are returning home from overseas leagues.
Interestingly, March 3 marks the one-month anniversary of the appointment of full-time vice chairman Kim Jung-bae, a former vice minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. This is a chance for him to share how he is utilizing his “30 years of experience in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism” and how he is progressing with his promise to “identify the causes of various internal problems and urgently resolve them,” as he stated in the media when he was appointed. Now that the executive director position has been abolished, it’s time for Kim to step up to the plate and talk about her transition from outsider to insider. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to join the organization once the new head of PR is hired.
With a new face at the helm, the KFA’s intention to strengthen its public relations is certainly better than the period of staged responses. However, it’s troubling to see it as a publicity stunt for publicity’s sake, or as a way to bury problematic policies in the face of harsh, cold, critical public opinion. We need to recognize that this is not a problem that can be solved by simply hiring someone. There is also a risk that the new head of communications will be under pressure to do a good job 스포츠토토.
There are endless questions about why Chung didn’t become a member of the FIFA Council, why the Asian Cup bid was lost to Qatar, why there will be no promotion between the K League 2 and K League 3, and how long the referees’ chair will remain vacant, and there is still a public opinion that doesn’t understand the failures. Instead of just saying, “We are sorry. We will innovate harder,” but is it too much to expect a concrete, objective, painful self-examination that says, “These were our weaknesses and we need to improve these areas.”