In anticipation of the upcoming World Cup, to be held in South Korea and Japan from June through the end of July, the Rail asked its sometime contributor John Logan for an update. Here are his observations, as of May 19th:
In preparation for the tournament, the South Korean government has converted several hundred “love hotels” into tourist hotels and shut down dog meat restaurants. Recently, it also announced that it won’t tolerate any strikes during the tournament (several are planned), because this would “tarnish the reputation” of the country. Presumably, riot cops beating up strikers won’t cause international outrage—and in any event, such workouts will leave the police well prepared to contend with the football hooligans who will show up.
Argentina is one of the favorites to win. If it does, the country may end up with two prizes, only one of which is coveted: the world’s best soccer team and the world’s worst economy.
France, which will probably win its second consecutive title, can be grateful for the outcome of its recent elections in many ways. Several French players announced that they would have refused to play had Le Pen won the presidency.
The Japanese are quite rightly concerned about the specter of hooliganism on their shores. An English fan addressing a Japanese audience recently sought to calm their worries, however: “I’m big, fat, and ugly, but I’m not a hooligan—and neither are 99% of English fans, many of whom look exactly like me.” Only the last part of this statement is verifiable.
John Logan teaches international labor relations at the London School of Economics. He will not be rooting for England, however.