- Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup
This book covers the most important issues in sports today and in the context of the 2002 World Cup demonstrates how these issues are manifest. The book reaches its goals of detailing the essential preliminaries on the way to fully understanding what happened at the 2002 games and provides an informative account of the development of professional football in both Korea and Japan (p. 4). It covers the issues of critical importance: center-periphery relations related to governance in world sport; power relations between nation-states, supranational sport associations and the sport business; the media-sport-business connection and the cultural production of ideologies essentially needed to cover the emergent fissures under the surface of the "peoples' game" (p. 5). Although the articles focus on Japan and Korea, their analysis of sport goes beyond this specific context and this specific sport.
Why the World Cup? What is the World Cup?
"[T]he World Cup is more than just a prominent sport tournament. In fact, as a 'mega-event' the World Cup is also a charismatic spectacle, a functional social ritual and a product of rational calculation. . . . It is a serious business as well as a public display of national achievements, and a showcase of individual and collective excellence it also serves as a labour market for some of the best-paid salaried employees in the world. In dealing with 'the games behind the game,' this book delivers its own unique account of the 2002 World Cup" (p. 2). The starting field in 2002 included: 194 national teams, 777 preliminaries, 29 finalists (France as reigning champion and Japan and Korea as hosts were automatically qualified). Football is not just a sport played in fields and schoolyards. It is an activity that involves millions of people as players, fans, and administrators. It is global in scope and participation and involves millions of dollars in salaries, stadiia, memorabilia, TV coverage, and ad sales.
Why Japan and Korea as co-hosts?
In the first section of the book, an excellent analysis of the relationship between sport and politics is provided. The 2002 games are the first finals to be held in Asia and the first to be co-hosted by two countries, Korea and Japan. The thorny relations between Korea and Japan served as "an opportunity to make effective use of the World Cup as moral leverage in diplomatic relations" (p. 13). During the colonial period (1910–1945), "sports were seen as a way of expressing Korean nationalistic sentiment and resistance to the Japanese" (p. 74). "[F]ootball was a social catalyst because it provided one of the rare occasions where Korea usually triumphed over Japan" (p. 18). The relations between Korea and Japan during the twentieth century were antagonistic and left bitter scars [End Page 116] and ongoing disputes over such issues as the "comfort women" (forced prostitution of Korea women), textbook depiction of Japanese actions in Asia, and the right-wing jingoism of some Japanese. These have presented great impediments to the two countries' working together.
However, many young people in both countries do not harbor the grudges and issues of the older members of these groups, and there was great interest as to how they would react to working together to co-host the tournament. As Gavin McCormack observes, "If the Korean stadium can come to life in rejoicing over a Japanese victory, and likewise the Japanese stadia celebrate Korean victories as their own, that would have a significance far greater than any outcome in the final" (p. 41). As I was living in Tokyo at the time of the games, watching them on TV, especially listening to the groups of young people at Shinjuku and Chongno who commented on the games, and the comments of students at Waseda International Division, this had been achieved. When Japan beat Russia, the roar in the neighborhood was such that I went out to observe people of all ages watching and cheering as the game was replayed in coffee shops...