Fans slam KFA for plans for Eninho, Park
By Jung Min-ho
The Korea Football Association (KFA) is under fire for the special naturalization for Jeonbuk Motors midfielder Eninho and picking Arsenal forward Park Chu-young for the national squad due to the postponement of his national service.
The Korea Olympic Committee (KOC), which rules on all major decisions concerning sport in the country, announced Wednesday that it has decided not to recommend special naturalization for Eninho last, stopping the KFA’s bid to allow the 30-year-old Brazilian to join the national team. However, a day after the KOC revealed its decision, KFA President Cho Chung-yun said, “We are going to file a request for the KOC to reconsider the verdict concerning Eninho’s special naturalization next week” in an interview with the Dong-a Ilbo.
Although, as of Friday morning, the 30-year-old winger had a fine record with four goals in 10 games this season, many question the necessity of his naturalization that would set a precedent for other cases. They say his performances have been good but there are Koreans, including those playing overseas, who can represent the national team, especially since the European leagues are about to end.
According to the new law for special naturalization that took effect on the first day of 2011, the government can grant citizenship to people within the criterion that a “talented person with ample potential to contribute to the nation's development,” letting them keep their original nationality.
So far, only four athletes ― basketball players Moon Tae-jong, Moon Tae-young and Kimberly Roberson and short-track speed skater Gong Xiang-jing ― have benefited from the revised law however, all of them are of Korean descent.
Controversy has surrounded Park since the Korean national team manager Choi Kang-hee decided to select him to reinforce the team’s offense, defending his controversial delay in doing his military service.
“Park did not say he would not do his army service. To my knowledge, he has just postponed it,” KFA chief technical director Hwangbo Kwan said, Wednesday. “Everyone agrees he is needed for the team.”
Fans lashed out at Park when the news broke that he could delay his compulsory military duty for a decade after he obtained a 10-year residence permit from Monaco in March.
Choi will announce his squad for the first matches in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 Brazil World Cup on May 17. Korea will take on Qatar in Doha on June 8 and then host Lebanon four days later.