S. Korean official speaks out on medical staff controversy

January 24, 2019

 A high-ranking South Korean football official on Thursday vowed to improve medical support for the national team after admitting poor administration at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.

Kim Pan-gon, who leads the national team coach appointing committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA), said there were “mistakes” managing the national team medical staff at the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

“There were some flaws in the KFA’s administrative work handling two medical staff members who returned home during the competition,” Kim told reporters at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, where South Korea will take on Qatar in the quarterfinal match on Friday. “We should have gotten rid of risks that could happen during the tournament, but apparently there were mistakes.”

This file photo taken on Sept. 9, 2018, shows South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento (L) speaking with Kim Pan-gon, head of the national team coach appointing committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA), at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)
In this file photo taken on Jan. 13, 2019, South Korea national football team midfielder Ki Sung-yueng (C) receives treatment from medical staff ahead of training in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken on Sept. 9, 2018, shows South Korea national football team head coach Paulo Bento (L) speaking with Kim Pan-gon, head of the national team coach appointing committee at the Korea Football Association (KFA), at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea brought four rehabilitation specialists to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Asian Cup, but apparently they joined the national team without renewing their contracts with the KFA. Two of them recently returned home, and the KFA was forced to send their replacements to the UAE.

South Korea have been dealing with injury problems at the Asian Cup. Veteran midfielder Ki Sung-yueng already left the team due to a hamstring injury, while attacker Lee Jae-sung has been sidelined for more than two weeks after sustaining a toe injury.

Some critics pointed out that South Korea’s injury management is not working well because the team doctor is a specialist in cardio and thoracic services instead of orthopedics. However, Kim said he sees no problem with the team doctor.

“We have to prepare for various medical problems during the tournament such as heart attack, cold, diarrhea, and the team doctor can’t cover all of them,” he said. “Our staff are communicating closely with doctors on the KFA medical committee and managing the players’ health.”

According to Kim, South Korea head coach Paulo Bento also said he has no problem working with the current team doctor.

“Bento personally requested that he wanted to work with that doctor,” he said. “We could have changed the team doctor for this tournament, but Bento said there’s no need to change because the players are satisfied with him.”

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