After the jubilation of the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the details and results of the Colombia-Uruguay A match in March were buried in an unexpected maelstrom. The day before the match, the Korean Football Association held a board meeting and announced that it would pardon 100 footballers, including suspended match-fixers.
The decision to amnesty the soccer world created a huge backlash. Social outrage ensued. The memories of crying out for justice at unnecessary social cost, which sounded the alarm in our society, disappeared with a single amnesty decision.
The criticism was twofold. Who made this decision, Chairman Chung Mong-kyu? Critics accused him of being a footballer without a conscience, but it was not clear who they were. The entire board of directors resigned, leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
Chung’s decision-making style was also criticized. The reason given for the amnesty was that the soccer world was celebrating after reaching the round of 16 at the World Cup in Qatar. Calls for Chung’s resignation poured in. Eventually, Chung said he would meet with many people to listen to public opinion, and as a result, a new executive committee was formed. In the process, Han Joon-hee, a familiar commentator to the public, and former Sports Seoul editor-in-chief Kim Kwon-seok, a retired journalist, were appointed as part-time vice presidents as a gesture of communication.
Over a month after the board reshuffle
The decision to reshuffle the board of directors has been made with the intention of not showing a board of directors that only acts as a juggernaut again. However, one question mark from the public consultation process is still ongoing. This is the “unjustified suspicion” that the soccer association has not been able to properly promote its own policies to the public or the media. The question mark is whether it’s possible that a criticized policy is okay as long as it’s well publicized.
As a result, the soccer federation put out an announcement for a new head of communications, with a two-day deadline for applications. The choice of who will take the reins of the organization’s public relations will depend on internal selection criteria and a strong self-presentation by applicants.
The hiring process is similar to that of a private company. If you pass the initial screening, you will be interviewed by the general manager and the head of the administrative support team, who will also be interviewed in English due to the organization’s international work. If you pass, you will be interviewed by the full-time vice president, and if you pass, you will have a final interview with the president. It is expected that the candidate’s ability to verbalize the desired public relations strategy and present a vision will be key.
Interestingly, this is the first time since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup that the federation has even issued a press release to hire a PR chief. This is even more so in that there has never been a precedent for a general recruitment or career postings to include only resources that specialize in public relations. While there are various interpretations, it is clear that the KFA has admitted that it has failed to convince the public of its decisions by failing to properly promote them. Both soccer fans and the media have criticized Chung and the KFA for their “lack of communication” with the public.
For example. During the March match against Colombia at the Munsu Soccer Stadium in Ulsan, the Colombian national team did not show up when they were supposed to warm up. They showed up 20 minutes before kickoff and were still on the field at 8:00. The game didn’t start until nearly 30 minutes later. If the soccer federation had practiced common sense PR in this process, the situation would have been communicated to the PR team by a staff member who heard about it from a liaison officer in Colombia, and the PR team would have responded by text message.
Instead, it was not known until the start of the game, and after repeated phone calls, it was finally confirmed that the tardiness was due to traffic jams. Although it ended in a happy ending, it showed the lack of a public relations strategy and system to communicate the situation. Of course, I understand that it is difficult for the staff to respond to the A-match because they are busy with other tasks, but it was unfortunate to see that there is no control tower that controls the entire event.
Will a new head of PR solve the ‘lack of PR’ problem?
In the long run, those who led public relations under Chairman Chung Mong-joon (now Chairman Emeritus) have either returned to HHI, taken on other duties as a result of disciplinary action for misconduct, or moved on to other organizations after retirement. Most of the employees who studied public relations under them are either scattered due to the reshuffling of the association’s staff after the World Cup in Qatar, or are working on tasks that do not match their talents.
In any organization, there is a handover process to ensure continuity of work, but public relations, which has intangible relationships and is measured by tangible content (articles, video productions, etc.), is often the one that does not shine. It’s common knowledge among fans that in the age of new media and a variety of ways to stay in touch with an association, public relations is no longer simply a matter of asking, “Why didn’t we stop the article that was harmful to the organization?”. It’s a stinging indictment of the so-called “off-fluid narrative.
The use of ‘professional indefinite contracts’ still feels like a sign that the federation is taking its PR work lightly. Although there is no difference between regular and non-regular employees, it seems difficult to avoid the fact that even if the tenure is guaranteed, it is still an unstable status, and if you do not perform well and receive a failing grade, you will have to continue working with anxiety. 안전놀이터
Even if you assume that this is due to the association’s salary system, it is even more so when you consider that you have to do a wide range of work, such as responding to inquiries from many media outlets, government affairs, and discussions with related organizations. Under the headings of “public relations and media strategy” and “overseeing planning work,” the association has already listed a huge list of tasks for the head of the public relations office, including “publicizing association policies and institutional improvements, responding to the media, managing reporters, supporting interviews, writing press releases, and supporting the media for each national team.
It’s true that with responsibility comes responsibility. Just like a private company’s public relations team, the degree of situational judgment and factual knowledge to at least understand and explain the policy or detailed situation that the company is pursuing is not enough.