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Korea Republic hero Hong Myung-bo 'proud' of Qatar's hosting of 2022 FIFA World Cup

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bangkok: Korea Republic legend Hong Myung-bo is calling on countries across Asia to support Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Hong Myung-bo KFA CEO - Annual Awards -

Hong is fully aware of the benefits of hosting a FIFA World Cup on home soil after leading his nation to the semi-finals in 2002, and winning the Bronze Ball in the process as the tournament’s third best player.

Now the CEO of the Korean Football Association, Hong is proud that Qatar will host the continent’s second FIFA World Cup in five years’ time.

When speaking to during the recent AFC Annual Awards in Bangkok, Hong said the 22nd edition of the tournament could boost both economic and football development in Qatar and the region.

“The KFA are proud of Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” said Hong, who coached his national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. “The whole of Asia must get behind Qatar. Hosting the World Cup is likely to do wonders to Qatar’s economy, as well as fast-track its development as a football nation.”

Hong is speaking from personal experience – he saw how the 2002 tournament benefitted his nation and inspired future generations.

“The 2002 World Cup was all about showcasing Korea’s rapid economic development, which was set in motion by hosting another mega-event, the 1988 Olympics.

“Our manufacturing sector became very sleek during the intervening period and laid the foundation of our export-driven growth. During the decade after 2002, our exports grew at double-digit pace and today Korean brands have a substantial market share of all major global economies. Qatar is also seeking to propel the country forward economically just like we did.”

Korea Republic’s football revolution after 2002 has been remarkable as well, and Hong is proud of his own significant role. He reminisced how his team rewrote history in 2002, which became the foundation for successive generations of talented Korean footballers to excel in top European leagues.

”I was part of the 1994 and 1998 tournaments but we did not win a single game in USA or France,” he explained.

“I was nervous in the lead-up to 2002. We were together for six months under the watchful eyes of Guus Hiddink.

“In the World Cup opener we defeated Poland, but we still didn’t think we were onto something special. In our next game, we snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against the USA. The crowd really got behind us and our confidence grew. We were also mentally tough.”

He continued: “I remember telling the team before the last group game – against a strong Portugal side – that this was our moment, and sure enough it was. We then upset Italy in the next round before Spain in the quarter-finals. Those were tight games and our confidence, self-belief and the fighting spirit of our fans carried us through.”

Hong also believes Qatar’s national team should take inspiration from Korea Republic’s run to the last four in 2002.

He said: “Qatar should do extensive research on our preparation. A home World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Qatar needs to do all it can to deliver on the field. I can vouch that it has the potential to be a transformative moment for the country.”