Asian Cup press room tension boils over

By Trung Thu   February 1, 2024 | 06:41 pm PT
Asian Cup press room tension boils over
South Korea's coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks out from the bench during the Asian Cup's round of 16 match against Saudi Arabia and South Korea, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by AP/Thanassis Stavrakis
The animosity between coaches and the media at the Asian Cup has culminated with a group of reporters getting banned forever after trashing the conference room and threatening a coach.

After drawing 3-3 against South Korea in the final group E round Jan. 25, coach Kim Pan-gon angrily told Malaysian reporters at the press conference: "Yesterday they criticized me and wanted me to be sacked, but today they praised me."

In the first two rounds, Malaysia lost 0-4 to Jordan and 0-1 to Bahrain and were eliminated early. Therefore, before the final match against South Korea, Kim received questions about Malaysian fans and media criticizing his tactics and player selection. He also got questions like "do you feel pressure as the coach of Malaysia?" and "do you think you can continue to coach Malaysia?"

For South Korea, being held to a draw was a disappointment that drew accusations of the team not wanting to top group E to avoid Japan, the second place team in group D, in the round of 16.

A Saudi Arabian reporter asked why coach Jurgen Klinsmann smiled when Malaysia equalized 3-3 in the 15th minute of injury time against his team.

Klinsmann was not happy with that question but answered that he never intended to avoid Japan, and was somewhat bitter when South Korea missed many opportunities before the equalizer.

Previously, Vietnam coach Philippe Troussier made a controversial statement before his squad’s Iraq match in the final round of group D.

"I read many comments from international newspapers. Many people can see that we are doing well, except Vietnamese media."

The French coach believes that the majority of Vietnamese public opinion and media don’t support the team under his lead.

The most serious incident was between coach Jesus Casas and Iraqi reporters after the team lost 2-3 to Jordan in the round of 16 on Jan. 29. Some Iraqi journalists made a mess of the press conference room after the match, threatening to assault the Spanish coach.

They said Casas disrespected Iraqi fans and media by only giving short and simple answers. Casas was also accused of not focusing on the match against Jordan because he had a long interview on television before the game.

Security guards had to escort the aggressive reporters out of the press conference room. In a statement on Jan. 30, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) then banned these reporters from covering the remainder of the 2023 Asian Cup, as well as future tournaments organized by the confederation.

The AFC also condemned the criticism by both team members and fans toward referees.

"These actions go against the spirit of fairness and respect that the Asian football community is pursuing," the AFC statement said.

On Jan. 30, it was coach Roberto Mancini's turn to get criticized. He went into the tunnel early after Abdulrahman Ghareeb missed the fourth penalty kick, which prompted Saudi Arabia to lose 2-4 to South Korea in the round of 16.

South Korean news agency Yonhap described Mancini’s action as "abandoning" the team during a difficult time. Saudi Arabian Football Federation president Yasser Al-Misehal expressed disappointment with Mancini in a statement. The Italian coach's future with Saudi Arabia is now more uncertain than ever as there have been many disagreements between him and upper management in the past.

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