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The Ball 2002 is kicked over the Great Wall of China on its way to Korea & Japan

Category: Korea

Farewell Korea

Flags of friendship

So then, it’s goodbye to Korea… the Ball is moving on today, and there’s just enough time to write a fond farewell to a country we have really enjoyed visiting. I will miss Korea very much – the people have been generous, hospitable, and I’ve loved their enthusiasm for all things football-related.

I’ll be cheering for you on Saturday…

So then, no football today…

What the hell are we going to do?

Plan our travels, that’s what. Phil and I have finally got our tickets home – we head back to Europe on the 4th of July… to Paris. All the flights to the UK are booked out until the 9th July, and we both decided it would be better to get out of Japan early. Paris was our only option.

The Ball leaves for Tokyo tomorrow evening – we still live in the vain hope of finding a couple of tickets for the England v. Brazil game. Yeah, I know, fat chance… but whatever happens, it’ll be great just to be close to the action…

It’s a madhouse out there…


We learnt that it’s not the winning that counts. Wherever you go, playing football can be used to improve diplomatic relations and promote peace.
– an ex North Korean footballer talking about his team at the World Cup in England in 1966

But the winning sure does feel good…

The Korean Red Devils celebrate after a famous victory.

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Koreans have taken to the streets in their thousands to celebrate their victory over Italy… and the delight that is so plainly written across their faces is equally delightful to behold. I’ve just got back from dancing down an eight lane highway in the middle of town with the crowds… beers and soju being thrust into my hands whenever they weren’t high-fiving passers-by…

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Forza Korea!

Be the Reds!
Be the Reds!

The atmosphere in Seoul is electrifying again tonight, with seemingly the entire population working themselves into a frenzy in anticipation of tonight’s big match – everyone is uniformly dressed in “Be the Reds” t-shirts (despite the team playing in pink) and starting on the soju early. We were going to go to City Hall to see the game, but then realised that we’d only be able to see the crowds – who have been gathering there since lunchtime…

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Harte to believe

Irish supporter in full regalia
Joe Docherty, one of ‘The Arklow Jesters’ in full regalia

Our guesthouse is currently full of Irish, who have descended on the place in force to support their team. Before the game, as they prepared for the confrontation with Spain, all was smiles and optimism…

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One and one and one is three…

… and three is a magic numbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Three nil to the Engerlund!
Three nil to the Engerlund!

Jeepers creepers, how good is it back home? Ex-pat bar in Korea booted along good and proper. English songs a plenty and a victory for our boys.

We’re not going home

click here to download the MPEG movie clip

Not only did another defender stick one in the bag o’ onions, well… with a little assistance from the Danish keeper, but Owen opens his World Cup score sheet and… jeepers, bleeding creepers… HESKEY slipped one in! The Danes though, had little in response.

Bring on the Brazileros.

Come on you England

Well, save my own nervous excitement, I am well removed at the moment from any English fervour for tonight’s game, but will be heading off shortly to an ex-pat bar in Seoul for the game and hopefully a good crowd. Could be a home from home?

Never mind the jubilee
Happy Jubilee ma’am (thanks to Limpfish for the use of this image)

I am cheered though by reports from England of mass St. George support and hope for a lancing of the Denmark dragon, which would mean we’d have to get over to Japan for the next game.

Can anyone send photos which we could put up here from Blighty? It’d be beautiful to have a little home representation.

Michael, I dare you, stick a hat-trick in.

The e-World Cup

The World Cup should also be an opportunity for us to demonstrate the high standard of our information technology to the world. In this way, it will be remembered as an e-World Cup.
– from one of Kim Dae-jung’s recent speeches

The World Cup matches are screened in the subway trains

Since we’re here running a multimedia weblog, I thought I’d take the opportunity to see what was going on in the digital world here in Korea. This is a report of my discoveries so far.

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Japan, Belgium, Korea and US qualify

Who’d have thought it?

FIFA must be as pleased as the supporters – three countries where football is still in its infancy are through to the second round. Can’t be bad for the competition. Or the advertising revenue, either, come to that…

The Brazilian contingent make some noise.

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I thought all the qualifications were well deserved – the Portuguese played negative football in the first half, and paid the price – though I struggle to remember a team so effectively shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. Poland were as good as their word, and helped the Koreans relax by scoring two early goals… effectively guaranteeing Korean qualification. And then Korea did the Amercans a favour by putting them through. Gotta love the irony.

Seoul is booting off at the moment – Koreans celebrating like they’ve won the cup. Which, of course they haven’t. But it hardly matters – they’ve played entertaining football and I applaud their style. Even if they get no further in the competition, they’ve proved that Asian football can no longer be dismissed as second-rate. I rest my case with the Korean goal today. Bergkamp and Gascoigne eat your hearts out.

CNN interview FLH

CNN set up for the interview at Seoul stadium
CNN set up for the interview at Seoul stadium

More media action for the FLH team today, with CNN whisking the two of us off to Seoul stadium for an on-camera chat with host Tim Lister. Unfortunately, yet again we couldn’t get into the stadium, so the producer decided that we’d film on the grass in front of it.

Would it become a battle of the acronyms?

Watch the full interview with Phil, Chris and The Ball outside the stadium in Seoul.

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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.