World Cup supremo slams Japanese PM's shrine visit
South Korea's World Cup supremo Chung Mong-Joon accused Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi of destroying efforts to successfully co-host the event in less than 40 days.
Chung, a vice president of FIFA, football's international
governing body, said Koizumi's visit to a controversial Tokyo
war shrine on Sunday had dealt a new blow to the awarding of
the event to the rival neighbours.
The World Cup starts on May 31 in Seoul and ends on June
30 with the final in the Japanese city of Yokohama. FIFA
partly awarded the event to the two neighbours in a bid to
help them overcome past hostility.
But in a statement, Chung said "it directly breached the
purpose and spirit of the co-hosting of the World Cup finals
when Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine
on April 21."
The shrine honours some Japanese war criminals and visits
there by Japanese leaders produce instant condemnation by its
"It is very regretable that efforts by South Korea and
Japan to set up a partnership through co-hosting the World Cup
finals have been undermined by Koizumi's visit to the shrine,"
Chung said. "With the World Cup finals to open in a month or
so, this disappoints our public who wished to construct future
oriented relations with Japan."
The two organising committees have argued over which
country should be mentioned first on tickets and other minor
issues. But FIFA has generally praised their preparations.