Chung Mong-gyu praises legacy potential of Qatar 2022 stadium cooling technology
Exclusive interview for sc.qa
Korean Football Association President Chung Mong-gyu says the stadium cooling technology that Qatar is pioneering as part of its 2022 FIFA World Cup™ bid commitment will have a positive, long-lasting and far reaching effect not just in the Arab world, but across the Asian continent.
In a wide-ranging interview, the FIFA Council member also shared his thoughts the importance of home support, the continued development of Asian football and his own nation's chances in 2022.
As well as the new stadiums being built by Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™, what other legacy elements for Asian football do you see emerging from 2022?
I believe that technology will be an important element. I am aware that the advanced open air stadium cooling technology at Khalifa International Stadium has received praise from many quarters. A lot of leagues in Asia now have the backing of top corporate houses of those countries – Korea Republic, China, Japan, and recently India. Qatar's cooling system might be something these leagues could consider using after 2022 because a lot of matches are scheduled during summer months.
You have been a vocal supporter of Qatar's hosting and development plans. What are the main reasons behind your support?
The FIFA World Cup is coming back to Asia after 20 long years – this is good enough reason to support 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. I am aware that in addition to football development Qatar, like the Republic of Korea in 2002, there are broader objectives of economic transformation within the hosting plans for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. My best wishes to the Government and people of Qatar in their endeavours. If the vision of the Government is backed up by the participation of the public, Qatar will also achieve what Republic of Korea did.
How important is home support in hosting a successful FIFA World Cup™, and do you think that was a factor for your nation's success in 2002?
During the 2002 World Cup, the world admired the passion with which the people of Korean Republic supported the national team. It is always said that had it not been for the backing of the fans the team would have struggled to qualify from the group. Stadiums were full for all the matches and nearly seven million fans flocked to the 20,000-odd giant screens set up across the country to watch our semi-final against Germany. I hope that we will witness similar passion in Qatar for the region's first ever FIFA World Cup.
In four years' time Qatar will be hosting Asia's second FIFA World Cup™. Do you think Asian football will have further improved by 2022?
In Russia, Korea Republic created history by becoming the first Asian team to defeat a reigning world champion – and Japan almost made it to the quarter-final. Iran showed their high performance in a very tough group.
Asian countries can also be optimistic from a historical perspective while preparing for Qatar 2022. In 2002, when the World Cup was hosted by Asia for the first time, and in 2010, when Africa hosted, teams from the home confederations shone. Korea Republic reached the semi-final in 2002 and Ghana featured in the quarterfinal in South Africa.
How has the new football infrastructure, a legacy of the co-hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup™, been put to use by South Korea?
Most of the 2002 venues were handed over to K. League clubs and some of them have staged other marquee sporting events such as the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup Korea. The Jeonju World Cup Stadium, of course, will occupy a special place in Qatari hearts following Al Sadd's coronation as Asian champions there in 2011.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup also created the opportunity for a generation of our footballers, who came up through the domestic system, to improve their skills by getting exposure in top European leagues. Players like Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo made a mark for their European clubs. Subsequently, Lee Chung-yong, Koo Ja-cheol, Ki Sung-yueong and Son Heung-min have followed in their footsteps.
How would you look at Republic of Korea's potential to emulate their 2002 performance in 2022?
We have a good chance to do well in Qatar. Leading our attack in Qatar will be Son Heung-min. By 2022, I feel he would have scaled such heights on the European club scene which have even been beyond legends of our continent.
In Russia, Korea Republic defeated Germany with a starting line-up comprising nine Asia-based players. This illustrates that we have talent in the K.League and other AFC leagues. With a few of them likely to get exposure in top European leagues, we will be a fighting unit in 2022.