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Ex-World Cup stars, celebrities named honorary ambassadors for Asian Cup bid

All News 13:34 September 02, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- A pair of former South Korean World Cup heroes were joined by celebrities Friday as honorary ambassadors for the country's bid to host Asia's top football tournament in 2023.

Football legends Hwang Sun-hong and Lee Young-pyo will be asked to promote South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup. Five other honorary ambassadors introduced at Friday's ceremonies were: comedian Lee Soo-geun, sportscaster Bae Sung-jae, football analyst Park Moon-sung, dancer and choreographer Aiki, and Lee Jung-geun, head of the official national team cheering squad, the Red Devils.

Participants in the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup pose for photos at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. From left: Sports Minister Park Bo-gyoon, Red Devils leader Lee Jung-geun, South Korean under-23 men's national football team head coach Hwang Sun-hong, dancer Aiki, comedian Lee Soo-geun, KFA Vice President Lee Young-pyo, football analyst Park Moon-sung and KFA President Chong Mong-gyu. (Yonhap)

Participants in the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup pose for photos at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. From left: Sports Minister Park Bo-gyoon, Red Devils leader Lee Jung-geun, South Korean under-23 men's national football team head coach Hwang Sun-hong, dancer Aiki, comedian Lee Soo-geun, KFA Vice President Lee Young-pyo, football analyst Park Moon-sung and KFA President Chong Mong-gyu. (Yonhap)

South Korea is in the running to host the quadrennial Asian Cup for the first time since 1960, the second edition of the event. China had been set to stage the 2023 competition but withdrew as the host in May due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a striker and a defender, Hwang and Lee helped South Korea reach the semifinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup as the co-host. Hwang is currently head coach of the South Korean men's under-23 national team, and Lee is both CEO of the K League 1 club Gangwon FC and vice president of the Korea Football Association (KFA).

"I made my international debut at the 1988 Asian Cup in Qatar and also scored my first goal in the first match there. I have some great memories with this event," Hwang said at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul. "I'll try my best to bring the tournament home. It will be a chance for players to give our people something to cheer about, just like at the 2002 World Cup."

The seven honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup pose for a selfie after their introduction ceremony at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. Clockwise from bottom left: comedian Lee Soo-geun, Red Devils leader Lee Jung-geun, sportscaster Bae Sung-jae, South Korean under-23 men's national football team head coach Hwang Sun-hong, football analyst Park Moon-sung, KFA Vice President Lee Young-pyo and dancer Aiki. (Yonhap)

The seven honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup pose for a selfie after their introduction ceremony at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. Clockwise from bottom left: comedian Lee Soo-geun, Red Devils leader Lee Jung-geun, sportscaster Bae Sung-jae, South Korean under-23 men's national football team head coach Hwang Sun-hong, football analyst Park Moon-sung, KFA Vice President Lee Young-pyo and dancer Aiki. (Yonhap)

Lee Young-pyo holds the South Korean record for most career Asian Cup appearances with 16 matches across four competitions. He said he'd love to see the national team lift the Asian Cup trophy on home soil.

"I did a lot of things over my career, but I never did get to play Asian Cup matches in my home country," Lee said. "We've always had talent, but for whatever reason, we haven't been able to win the Asian Cup for all those years. Hopefully, we will get to win it as the host next year."

The AFC Asian Cup was first held in 1956. The Taeguk Warriors have only won two Asian Cups -- in 1956 and 1960.

They have had four runner-up finishes since, most recently in 2015, when they lost to Australia 2-1 in extra time.

Also at Friday's ceremony, Park Bo-gyoon, the minister of culture, sports and tourism, said South Korea's hosting of the 2023 Asian Cup will "open a new paradigm in football."

"If we host the tournament, it will be unlike any other international football competition so far," Park said. "We will have an exciting blend of football and culture. Football should be a festival, and we will surprise the world with a great show."

Korea Football Association (KFA) Vice President Lee Young-pyo speaks during the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at the KFA House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

Korea Football Association (KFA) Vice President Lee Young-pyo speaks during the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at the KFA House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea is up against Australia, Indonesia and Qatar in the bidding for the quadrennial tournament. Those three rivals all have recent history as hosts.

Australia hosted the 2015 tournament and will co-host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with New Zealand. Indonesia staged the 2007 Asian Cup with Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and will be the host of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Qatar won the most recent Asian Cup in 2019 and hosted the continental tournament in 2011. Qatar will also stage the FIFA World Cup this year and will be able to use the same venues for the Asian Cup if it wins the bid.

The deadline to submit final candidature files was pushed back from Wednesday to Sept. 15. The KFA said this week it would have been able to meet the original deadline and it will now prepare to submit all necessary documents, including the government guarantee and contracts on using match stadiums and practice facilities, by Sept. 15.

The AFC will conduct an on-site inspection of South Korea from Sunday to next Wednesday and will announce the winner on Oct. 17 following its executive committee meeting.

Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the South Korean men's under-23 national football team, speaks during the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at the KFA House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

Hwang Sun-hong, head coach of the South Korean men's under-23 national football team, speaks during the introduction ceremony for the honorary ambassadors for South Korea's bid for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at the KFA House in Seoul on Sept. 2, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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