The FIFA World Cup, one of the biggest sports events on the planet, kicked off with Ecuador’s 2-0 win over the host Qatar in the opening match. The FIFA World Cup is one of the most popular and valuable events not only in football but also in the whole sports sector. The total number of viewers for the last FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 reached 3.6 billion, which is nearly close to the Summer Olympic Games and Tour de France and overwhelmed the Winter Olympic Games, 2.1billion and UFC, 1.1 billion. Furthermore, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the total viewers of Qatar World Cup is expected to reach almost 5 billion. Also all eyes are on the World Cup during the World Cup period in South Korea. The viewer rating of the match that South Korea stunned defending champion Germany in the FIFA World Cup Russia in 2018, reached 60.96% in total, one of the highest records in the history. Moreover, the most popular football event is filled with interesting stories and extravaganza. Through this article, let’s dig into everything about World Cup, including the history of South Korean team in FIFA World Cup, the interesting and controversial part of Qatar World Cup and fierce marketing competition for the biggest football events.
<History of South Korean team in FIFA World Cup>
South Korea’s World Cup history is full of joy and frustration. Despite being less than a year after the end of the Korean War, South Korea clinched qualification for the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. South Korean teams, supported less due to poor national situation, played their first match in a bad condition after they arrived the host nation, Switzerland, a day before and sewed their back number by themselves. The Red Devils strove hard but were eliminated in the group stage as defeated 9-0 against Hungarian in the first match and 7-0 defeat against Turk in the second match. After the 1954 competition, South Korea had failed to qualify to the World Cup for 32 years but now South Korea became one of the strongest teams in Asia with 10th consecutive qualifications since the 1984 World Cup. In the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan, they defeated strong teams one after another to advance to the semi-final. Furthermore, South Korea made it to the second round for the first time on foreign soil in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and won an unexpected upset against defending champion, FIFA ranking 1st at that time, Germany despite a first round exit in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
<Interesting and controversial part of Qatar World Cup>
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has many notable features. First of all, the Qatar World Cup is the first World Cup to be held in the Middle Eastern Countries. Therefore, the details of the World Cup, including emblem, Mascot and Stadiums, describe the beauty and uniqueness of the Middle East. The emblem of this World Cup is inspired from the traditional woolen scarf of the Middle East. Mascot La’eeb also resembles Ghutrah, the qatari traditional headdress. This figure means a skillful player in Arabic and is a symbol that is expected to bring joy of football for all around the world. The most unique and marvelous part of the World Cup is the stadiums. Due to the hot winter in Qatar, which rises to approximately 30 degrees, air conditioners are installed on every seat of the stadiums and the touchlines of the ground. Owing to those air conditioners, the players and spectators can enjoy the match in a comfortable environment. Moreover, the exteriors of the Qatar World Cup stadiums are the most beautiful than any other World Cup stadiums in history. Al Thumama Stadium, which has white exterior and is carved on a geometric and splendid pattern, reflects the Gahfiya, traditional woven cap all across the Arab world. Al Bayt Stadium, which has a magnificent tent structure is inspired by the tent, Bayt al sha’ar, of Qatar’s nomadic people. Besides, the 974 Stadium was built by assembling 974 recycled shipping containers for easy dismantling after the World Cup. However, unlike its splendid appearance, the Qatar World Cup has been one of the most controversial World Cups in history even before the opening. Since Qatar was chosen as the venue, there have been many questions about whether Qatar is a suitable country to host the World Cup. Qatar has been criticized as an inappropriate country to host huge international sports events due to hot weather reaching 50 degrees in summer and an area of the country that is smaller than Jeollanam-do. These concerns indeed had a big impact on the World Cup schedule. Due to scorching heat, the World Cup has been rescheduled to be held in the winter for the first time in history, and many star players have left out of the World Cup squad as they got injured from playing in tight fixtures. In addition, Qatar has a small population so they hadn’t got enough accommodations receiving many tourists. Qatar constructed accommodations with cramped container boxes and they have been criticized by fans that it seems like a refugee camp. To offset these disadvantages, Qatar has been suspected of offering bribes to FIFA officials for being selected as a World Cup host. Furthermore, the Qatari authorities come under fire from around the world for exploiting migrant workers deployed to build World Cup infrastructure in harsh conditions and even leading to death. Workers for constructing infrastructure had to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, in a murderous heat over 50 degrees, in brutal working conditions without paid holiday. They had lived in dreadful accommodation with no air conditioner and waterworks and were forcibly seized their passports. Even, they were detained or deported by Qatari authorities when they demanded better working conditions. In these severe conditions, more than 6,700 construction workers were killed, and Qatari authorities stated that most of them died from natural causes without telling where they worked and what led them to deaths. Many countries around the world are voicing their opinions on this human rights violation. Denmark Kit Maker Hummel Launched ‘Toned Down’ World Cup Jersey, nearly invisible their sponsor and association logo, in Protest of Qatar’s Human Rights Abuses. Because, as Hummel said after releasing the kits, “We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.” Denmark also released an all- black third kit, which means mourning for dead workers. Moreover, with a joint statement urging FIFA to set up a compensation fund for workers and a center for migrant workers,10 European football associations, including England, Germany, Netherland and Switzerland announced they world continue to press FIFA until it implemented
<Marketing battle in FIFA World Cup>
The FIFA World Cup, all eyes are on, is also a battlefield where fierce marketing battles are fought by various companies. Shin Seong-ho, professor from Dept. of Sports Industry & Leisure at Kookmin University said that the World Cup is the best stage for multinational corporations to achieve their marketing goals. Prof. Shin said, For companies, the World Cup has the opportunity that companies’ brands and products can be repeatedly exposed for a long time to huge media viewers all around the world, and they can be advertised naturally and friendly, not repulsed like advertisements. Most formal way to utilize the World Cup as a marketing chance is contracting as an official sponsor. Prof. Shin said, “Due to FIFA’s ‘One Industry One Company policy,’ companies selected as sponsors can naturally improve their image as the best and faithful companies in the field, and it is an Hyundai Motors is a good example of these cases. Hyundai Motors has been an official FIFA partner since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup to 2022 Qatar World Cup. Indeed, Hyundai Motors has publicly announced that it has grown into a global auto brand in terms of quantity and quality over the past 20 years since it became the official sponsor of the World Cup and has achieved global advertising effects about 60 times the cost of sponsoring each World Cup. World Cup marketing has contributed significantly to Hyundai Motors's growth as a major international company.” However, many companies that are not chosen as official partners have also tried to jump on the bandwagon during the World Cup period, an exceptional and special opportunity. They use clever marketing strategy, known as Ambush marketing, to conduct marketing. Prof. Shin said, “Ambush marketing means the marketing strategy that companies that are not chosen as official partners are riding off to the sports event, subtly avoiding regulations, and disguising as an official sponsor even though they are banned to use a symbol related to that sports event. SK Telecom’s strategy at the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup is a representative example of Ambush marketing. The official sponsor in telecom field of the World Cup was KTF, but SK Telecom set up a large cheering place in front of City Hall and used images of people wearing red T-shirts cheering on a large scale as an advertisement. This strategy gained a huge marketing success, and many people recognized SK Telecom as the official sponsor rather than KTF, real official partner.” Like this, it also would be a special fun factor of the World Cup to pay attention to the fierce marketing competition of various companies.
By Shim Yun-Seop