Choi continues pushing special naturalization for Eninho
By Jung Min-ho
Korean national football team manager Choi Kang-hee said Monday at a press conference in Seoul that he will continue to press for special naturalization for Jeonbuk Motors midfielder Eninho.
“The Korean national football team manager is an imperative position,” Choi said. “It has to [manage the team to] win by any means possible; thus, I will try my best to do everything in my power.”
He also denied speculation that he took the initiative in pursuing the plan to allow the 30-year-old Brazilian to join the national team, saying he had not even thought about the issue that far. Some have accused Choi of pushing naturalization for Eninho because he was formerly a manager of the Motors.
“The issue has deviated in a way I have not imagined,” Choi said. “If I proceed with the plan for my personal gain, I should be held accountable for it.”
The Korea Olympic Committee (KOC), which rules on all major decisions concerning sport in Korea, announced last Wednesday that it had decided not to recommend the special naturalization, putting a hold on the KFA’s attempt to allow him to join the national squad. It said he lacks Korean language skills, which shows a shortage of his sincerity. Shortly after, the Korea Football Association (KFA) responded to the decision saying it would ask the KOC to reconsider its verdict.
During the conference, Choi expressed disappointment with committee’s decision, saying “I wonder if the KOC seriously looked into his performance and sincerity.” He continued, “I would like to ask if they know how desperate the situation is regarding the manager asking for special naturalization for him. It may be against Korean cultural norms, but I want him.”
Since the determined manager is unlikely step back on the issue, the KFA is expected to file a request for the KOC to reassess the case sometime this week. If it is approved by the KOC, Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Service will evaluate his candidacy. Considering the whole process is anticipated to take quite a while, regardless of how it turns out, the likelihood of seeing Eninho’s name on the squad’s list for the forthcoming game against Qatar is slim.