“No more political use of soccer clubs…We will be loved by citizens with a challenging spirit.”
Seongnam Mayor Shin Sang-jin, owner of Seongnam FC, will celebrate his one-year anniversary in office on July 1. After winning the local election in June last year, Mayor Shin caused a stir in the soccer world when he referred to Seongnam FC as “synonymous with corruption” and talked about selling the club. He was referring to the fact that the club was under investigation for allegedly misappropriating sponsorship money from large corporations under the previous mayor of Seongnam, Lee Jae-myung (now head of the Democratic Party of Korea). However, after gathering public opinion from Seongnam soccer fans and the local community, the club turned to a path of renewal, including attracting investment to maintain ties and changing management.
In an exclusive meeting with Sports Seoul at the mayor’s office on the 8th, Mayor Shin reflected on his first year in office and said, “I drew a new start for the soccer club with a sense of responsibility. I have been trying to write a drama that goes from nothing to something, from the bottom to the top,” he said, adding, “We will not suffer from political drafts again and will be reborn as a soccer team that receives the trust of citizens.”
“I think a lot of soccer fans were hurt,” he said, referring to the designation of Seongnam FC as a corrupt organization a year ago. There were actually strong protests. However, looking at the situation at the time, it was a clear fact.” “It was unthinkable that a citizen’s club, which is operated with 15 billion won in citizen’s taxes, would be investigated and go up and down in the media with unbelievable scandals,” he said.
He continued, “Seongnam FC has had a lot of problems since it was reborn as a citizen club, and they semi-forcibly mobilized passbooks, vice presidents, etc. as shareholders. They also invited in-house organizations, but if they didn’t participate, they created an atmosphere of marginalization. It was used politically.”
When asked how he changed his negative view of the soccer team to a positive one, Mayor Shin said, “I felt the symbolism of the local club, the efforts of the fans, and the pride of the citizens, which have been continued since the days of Seongnam Ilhwa.” He also thought it was an opportunity to transform into the owner as the responsible person left the club.
“When I was a kid, I loved the Fear the Walking 토토사이트 Dead cartoon. As the city’s slogan is ‘Hope City,’ I thought it could be used as a motif to change the situation into hope,” he said.
Under the new mayor, Seongnam FC has appointed CEO Kim Young-ha and head coach Lee Ki-hyung to lead changes at the front and within the squad.
Referring to regional integration and improving the quality of life of citizens, which are the essence of a civic club, Mayor Shin said, “The first priority is to clean up the disgraceful things that have been swept away by the political winds. The first step to normalization is to ensure transparency and morality in management,” he said.
“The second is for the club to get closer to citizens from all walks of life. We are making our own efforts, such as holding the ‘Citizen Appreciation Festa’ in April and cooperating with the local merchants’ association in the ‘Tancheon Beer Festival’ in May.”
Mayor Shin mentioned that on May 22, he met with Seongnam supporter Hong Si-young, who is ill, and handed over money and donations to support her medical expenses, saying, “It was raised by the players and former and current K-Leaguers, and I think it shows the true meaning of the existence of a football team.”
So far this season, Seongnam has won five, drawn five and lost six (20 points) and is in eighth place. It aims to leap to the mid-to-high tier in the second half of the season.
Mayor Shin said, “I want to develop the meaning of existence more than the results right now,” and “I will try to become a beloved citizen club again.” It’s interesting to note that Seongnam FC has won three games, drawn two, and lost none of them. Some fans have even nicknamed her the “Victory Fairy.
When asked about this, Mayor Shin said, “On the contrary, it’s a burden that we lost the two games I didn’t watch. I don’t believe in jinxes, but I will visit the stadium more often,” he laughed.