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Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy

The Chinese Dream


Edited By J.A. Mangan, Peter Horton and Christian Tagsold

Xi Jinping’s "Soccer Revolution" is unique: the most extensive politicization and geo-politicization of the Global Game. His purpose is to extend the global softpower projection of "the Middle Kingdom": an ancient Western imperial mantra ("bread and circuses") has been replaced by a modern Eastern "imperial" mantra ("rice and pitches"). The Asian Football Federation shares this "allopathic" vision of East Asian soccer: the future is Asia and it starts in China! Soccer is a talisman for a New Asia in a New Era. For China soccer is a hubristic instrument of softpower projection. Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy: The Chinese Dream makes this point forcefully. In East Asia soccer in now "much more than a game"!

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10 From Chinese Neurosis to South Korean Nightmare: (Kyoungho Park and Gwang Ok)


10 From Chinese Neurosis to South Korean Nightmare: Soccer as a Shifting Barometer of National Self-Confidence

Kyoung-ho Park and Gwang Ok

Introduction: The ‘Tiger in Asia’

Thanks to its advance to the finals of the 2018 Russia World Cup, a new achievement was realized in South Korean football history—reaching the World Cup finals nine times in a row since the 1986 Mexico World Cup. The South Korean team now ranks sixth in the world in terms of the number of consecutive advance to the World Cup finals, following Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina and Spain.1 This record indicates the strong position of South Korean football in the Asian region. Accordingly, South Korea has earned the nickname of the “tiger in Asia”.

With wholehearted public support, the South Korean national football team is constructing a new history. In fact, diverse cultural elements explain the enthusiastic support from the public for the national football team. The most representative cultural element is nationalism: soccer is a national symbol of assertive identity. During the Japanese colonial era (1910–1945), football, introduced to South Korea around the late nineteenth century,2—developed into a sport through which ethnic self-respect was projected. The football stadium was the only place where South Koreans could express their national identity on the same level as Japan, which had deprived South Koreans of their sovereignty and ruled the nation for 36 years as a colony. As a result, football became...

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