The name Daegu has already been imprinted in the minds of football fans worldwide as it was here in the eastern Korean city that two matches were held in this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
The splendid opening ceremony and the match that followed in the Daegu Main Stadium on 30 May revealed a football fever that not even the drizzling rain nor the Korean team’s heavy defeat by the World Champions France (0-5) could dampen. A main feature of the opening ceremony was a tableau called Breath of Fabric, with green waves expressing Daegu as a city known as a centre of the textile and fashion industry. The pitch was fully covered with pieces of textile and the softness of the textile in harmony with human beings successfully reflected the typical sentiments and overall mood of the city. The final part of the ceremony, entitled One World, involved some 1,000 people, including dancers, children, models and footballers, and at one point there were 60,000 spectators waving white handkerchiefs as 20 paramedics descended spectacularly from the rooftop with drapes of cloth.
Korean fans may have been disappointed at seeing their team lose 0-5 to France, but their exemplary behaviour and spontaneous applause for every French goal was enough to show the world that the people of Daegu were more than qualified to host part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. As the match drew to an end, the spectators followed their new custom by picking up their own trash to help tidy the stadium. Then at the Australia-France match on 1 June, the local fans enthusiastically joined in a Mexican Wave even though it was not their own team playing.
The two matches in Daegu proved that the city and its stadium are ready for the 2002 FIFA World CupTM. The big event next year will further advance Daegu’s claims as an internationally renowned international city that will also play host to the 2003 Universiad Games. The brand-new Daegu Main Stadium had been inaugurated on 20 May with a game between Santos of Brazil and Ilwha of Seongnam, with almost 70,000 tickets distributed free of charge nationwide. Daegu Main Stadium is one of the ten new stadiums in Korea, having taken just under four years to complete, and is located in the Suseonggu district on a site of approximately 515,000m2. Of the 66,040 seats, 74 per-cent are covered by a Teflon coating roof membrane that lets through natural light and thus provides an agreeable environment for the spectators. The design of the roof recalls the beautiful curves of a traditional Korean house with a straw-thatched roof.
Construction of the stadium is part of the Grand Daegu Park development project and is expected to become one of the major leisure attractions of the city. To befit Daegu’s image as a city aware of the environment, 204,000 trees of 56 different species, including pines and zelkovas, have been planted around the stadium to form a natural park. After the World Cup, the stadium will become a multi-cultural centre.