South Korean FA fights its K-League over players

South Korean national team coach Pim Verbeek has told the coaches of K-League clubs that he will follow KFA rules and take his 23-man Asian Cup to the island of Jeju to prepare for next week’s friendly against Iraq this Saturday morning. “It will be good if everyone can co-operate. We don’t have Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo or Seol Ki-hyeon and we need to train if we are to win the Asian Cup for the first time in 47 years,” Verbeek said.

The Chairman of the KFA’s technical committee Lee Yung-moo told reporters there would be no negotiation. “Verbeek told me that he has submitted to the K-League clubs in the past and got nothing in return. The teams we face in Group D have already started preparations. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain started two weeks ago, Indonesia started eight weeks ago. Every day we lose is frustrating for the coach, ” Lee said.

Unfortunately for the image of the country, many of the professional clubs are upset to lose key players while there are still scheduled league games. “It never changes, we always have this problem. In the future we will have to follow FIFA’s rules of releasing players rather than the KFA’s. Verbeek’s decision seems to be an emotional one," said Suwon Operations manager, Oh Kun-young. “I am sorry that the problem is being solved in this manner – it is hard to understand that this is the only way,” a spokesman for champion club Seongnam said. "Seongnam face Chunnam Dragons on Saturday which may explain why Chunnam coach Huh Jung-moo didn’t seem to upset about his loss," observed John Duersdon at

“There needs to be more flexibility and the K-League and KFA have to come to a compromise but we have never not sent players to the national team,” Huh, himself, said.

UPDATE (19 June)

K-League President Kwak Chung-hwan sent an official statement to the national team on Tuesday requesting the players be allowed to take part in the 23 June fixtures before travelling to the camp on Jeju, said league spokeswoman Kim Ka-eun. "We decided to push all seven of our weekend games to that one day in consideration of the national football team, but now none of our main players can play," the statement read.

However national coach Verbeek is unlikely to compromise. "I only abided by the football association's rules, which say I can summon the players 14 days before the Asian Cup," Verbeek told local sports daily Sports Seoul. "One day may be nothing for them but it'll cost me three days with recovery and everything."