The meaning of Korea’s consecutive semifinals, ‘escape from Europe’ U-20 World Cup ‘model country’
The Korean national under-20 (U-20) team beat Nigeria 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA (International Football Federation) U-20 World Cup held in Argentina on the 5th (Korean time) and advanced to the semifinals. . Korea, who finished runner-up in the 2019 U-20 World Cup, enjoyed the joy of advancing to the semifinals for the second consecutive tournament.스포츠토토
With this victory, Korea advanced to the semifinals three times (1983, 2019, 2023) in the U-20 World Cup, which was founded in 1977, and Africa’s Ghana (1 winner, 2 runners-up) on continents other than Europe and South America. ), and Nigeria (2 runner-up), it became a ‘Third World’ country that left a big footprint.
In fact, the background of the establishment of the U-20 competition was closely related to the development of Third World football. João Havelange (1916-2016), president of the Brazilian Football Association, who was dissatisfied with FIFA’s ‘Eurocentrism’, was elected FIFA president ahead of the 1974 World Cup. His key promise was to expand World Cup qualifying tickets for third world member countries. With this strategy, he was able to garner votes from African member states and be elected president.
He founded the U-20 World Cup prior to increasing the World Cup final ticket, which at the time was 16. Coca-Cola, a global corporation that became a sponsor of FIFA in May 1976, was of great help in this. Beginning in the 1970s, Coca-Cola, which actively sought market expansion into the Third World, began paying intensive attention to soccer, the world’s best global sport. It is the main reason Coca-Cola signed a $5 million contract with FIFA, the largest sports sponsorship contract at the time.
Choi Seok-hyun (right) celebrates after scoring a goal in the quarterfinal match against Nigeria on the 5th (Korean time). /AFPBBNews=News1
Against this backdrop, the first U-20 World Cup was held in Tunisia in 1977. This was possible because Coca-Cola, which wanted to expand its sales network to the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, was the title sponsor of the event. This, of course, was also a perfect fit for President Havelange’s third world football development model.
So, U-20 tournaments were frequently held in Asian and African countries. The second tournament in 1979 was held in Japan, and the third tournament in 1981 was held in Australia. Twelve, more than half of the total of 23 U-20 tournaments to date, have been held in Asia and Africa.
The third world football craze was not created only through the hosting of the tournament. Qatar finished runners-up in 1981 and Japan finished runners-up in Nigeria in 1999.
Ghana was the first Asian and African country to win the tournament. In 2009, Ghana created a cataclysmic victory by defeating Brazil in the tournament held in Egypt.
Korea is also showing its strengths at the U-20 World Cup and leaping into a ‘model country’ that fits the purpose of the tournament. In Mexico in 1983, Korea surprised the world by advancing to the semifinals. At the time of Sparta training at Hyochang Stadium wearing an oxygen mask to prepare for the tournament in the highlands of Mexico, the Korean team’s tireless stamina and speed were its greatest strengths. For the Korean team, which earned the nickname ‘Red Devils’ from the local media in Mexico, Havelange spared no praise for their fast attacks centered on wing play.
Thanks to the outstanding performance of Lee Kang-in (22, Mallorca), who was selected as MVP at the tournament held in Poland in 2019, Korea took second place and surpassed the myth of Mexico’s semifinals.
Kim Eun-joong, head coach of the U-20 national team. /Photo = KFA
Korea, which once again advanced to the quarterfinals in the U-20 competition in 2023, will clash with Italy in the semifinals on the 9th. The Italian senior national team has been in a bit of a slump, failing to qualify for the last two World Cups. However, the Italian youth team has performed exceptionally well in recent U-20 competitions. They placed 3rd and 4th in the 2017 and 2019 competitions, respectively. In this tournament as well, Italy is showing off its formidable offensive power, led by Cesare Casadei (20, Chelsea), who ranks first in scoring with six goals.
On the other hand, in Korea, players from the K-League, which are not well known to fans, form the main axis. In fact, before participating in the tournament, the Korean team was the subject of concern. The general view was that most of the players had little experience in participating in K-League games, so they could not expect much. However, Korea, united as a ‘one team’, is demonstrating its infinite potential and is marching on a near-miracle victory.
In the quarterfinals, South Korea will play against Nigeria in overtime, and it is expected that players’ physical recovery will be the most important thing in order to match Italy on an equal footing.