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메이저놀이터 The ‘jamboree rush’ controversy that has sparked the football world has claimed a second and third victim. This time, it’s FC Seoul and the Seoul Facilities Management Corporation.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced that the 2023 World Scouting Jamboree K-pop concert and closing ceremony will be held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on 11 November.

The ministry has twice changed the venue of the event, to the detriment of clubs competing in the Football Association (FA) Cup and K League 1. The event was initially scheduled to take place on the 6th at Saemangeum Outdoor Special Stage, but was moved to Jeonju World Cup Stadium on the 11th. The FA Cup quarter-final match between Jeonbuk Hyundai and Incheon United, scheduled for the 9th at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, was cancelled due to preparations for the event. However, due to the typhoon Kanun, the jamboree organisers decided to move the event back to Seoul World Cup Stadium a day later.

While Seoul has no home games this weekend, the clubs and the Seoul Facilities Management Corporation, which has spent years maintaining the 1 billion won hybrid turf, are upset.

In October 2021, the facility management agency laid a new hybrid turf made up of 95 per cent natural grass and five per cent artificial turf, following criticism of the condition of the turf at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, which has hosted national A matches. The grass pimples have been reduced and the drainage system has been transformed into an excellent ground. The project cost 1 billion won.

Since then, the facility management agency has been determined to keep the turf at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, a “football mecca” that hosts Korea’s top professional football league and A matches, at the highest level even in peacetime. The stadium was not allowed to host large concerts, which would have been a major source of income, to prevent damage to the grass. Recently, a large religious event was held, but the stage was set up in section E, which has adjustable seats. This was done without damaging the turf.

However, the Jamboree will not only set up a stage near the goalposts in the S section, but will also have a protruding stage and a structure that will communicate with the audience. The stage extends out to the ground area. The organisers are planning to lay protective grass pads around the area, but the damage to the grass is obvious.

At a briefing on the emergency evacuation status of the Jamboree on the 9th, Minister of Public Administration and Security Lee Sang-min acknowledged that “there is a possibility of damage to the stadium grass,” and said, “We are looking for ways to minimise it. I understand that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has changed the venue after several consultations.”

Players from both teams greet each other after the 2-2 draw between the Hana OneQ K League 1 FC Seoul and the Pohang Steelers at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday. By Park Jin-up upandup@sportsseoul.com

By all appearances, the Korean professional football community is hoping for a “sacrifice” in the government’s urgent follow-up to the Jamboree. A senior footballer said, “This incident represents the government’s level of awareness of the social value of sports beyond football. A senior footballer lamented, “It’s ‘just football’ to them.” He added, “This kind of behaviour, where football, the representative professional sport in Korea, is subject to the government’s dictates, stems from the fact that the stadium is operated by the Facilities Management Corporation. It is necessary to change to a system where clubs retain the right to operate stadiums through long-term leases or negotiations that suit their conditions.”

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