Head of South Korea's World Cup effort steps down

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The head of South Korea's organizing committee for the 2002 soccer World Cup resigned Tuesday amid reports of conflict within the organization.

"I do not blame anyone for my resignation. I will pray for the success of the 2002 World Cup," said Park Seh-jik, who headed the committee for two years and two months.

Recent news reports said that some committee members were unhappy with Park's "arbitrary management style" and lack of transparency in budget management. The committee plans to convene an executive meeting soon to chose Park's replacement. The committee comprises 67 politicians, executives and sports and other officials.

Park was reportedly at loggerheads with Chung Mong-joon, head of South Korea's Football Association and a vice president of FIFA, soccer's world governing body.

Park, a retired army general, served as chairman of the organizing committee for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. He also served as sports minister, Seoul mayor and head of the government's main spy agency during past military-backed governments.

South Korea is to co-host the 2002 World Cup finals with Japan.

Park's resignation came after continuous accusations by local media that the committee was lagging far behind Japan in building stadiums where World Cup matches will be held.

Park Jin-bae, a spokesman for the committee, admitted the Korea was slow in building the stadiums, compared to Japan, adding some 55 percent of the construction work has been done.

"But the issue is whether we can finish it before we start the games. We are sure it will be done," he said. All stadiums will be completed by December 2001 at the latest, he said.

Japan has already completed building two stadiums.

Earlier this year, Japan and South Korea assured FIFA that stadium construction and other preparations for the 2002 World Cup are on schedule if not ahead.

Courtesy CNNSI.com

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