Forbes, the world’s leading business magazine, has weighed in on the Korean men’s soccer team’s chances of winning gold at the Asian Games, including Lee Kang-in.
“This week, Lee Kang-in will face off against a striker from Tsukuba University in Japan. It’s the most important match of Lee’s career.”
South Korea is just one step away from a third consecutive Asian Games gold medal. They defeated Kuwait, Thailand, Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, and China, before beating Uzbekistan 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday thanks to a multi-goal performance from Jung Woo-young.
For South Korean athletes, winning an Asian Games gold medal means more than just winning. Athletes who win gold at the Asian Games are granted a special exemption from military service. This is a benefit that almost all soccer players need, as they are eligible to do alternative service while continuing to play instead of enlisting.
Asian Games gold is also important for players who play in Europe. For European teams, active duty is a risky proposition, as it means they have to release their players without a transfer fee. This is directly related to the player’s wages and transfer market availability.
Take Kim Min-jae, who won gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang. He joined Bayern Munich this summer for a transfer fee of €50 million, which the club would not have been willing to pay if he had been required to serve in the national team 스포츠토토.
The same goes for Son Heung-min. If he hadn’t won the gold medal at the Games, he would have had to enlist until 2019, which would have prevented him from winning the 2020 Puskas Award and being the top scorer in the 2021-2022 English Premier League (EPL).
Forbes was well aware of this. “If South Korea hadn’t won gold at the 2018 Asian Games, Son Heung-min would likely not have won the Pushkas Award and EPL Golden Boot, and Kim Min-jae would not have gone to Napoli. Hwang Hee-chan would also have gone to the K League instead of Wolverhampton Wanderers.”
The media explained the significance of Lee’s gold medal by saying, “Lee Kang-in is a player who can reach the top level if he is not drafted into active duty or injured.” It also listed players currently playing in Europe, including Jung Woo-young, Hong Hyun-seok, and Lee Han-beom, and emphasized that the color of their medals will determine whether they continue to play in Europe.