With the 2014 FIFA World Cup all set to start, the 32 qualifying teams are hard at work preparing for the final tournament and getting as many edges over the competition as possible in order to survive to the end.

However, with such drive and passion it’s only natural for some teams to go a little over the line in their preparation from time to time. That’s what seemed to have happened with the Korea Republic national team who came up with the idea of swapping most of their players’ uniform numbers in their games leading up to the tournament in order to protect their strategy from prying eyes of the competition.

Prior to a friendly match against Ghana in Miami, USA on 10 June, it was found that the Korean national team was preparing to play with uniform numbers different from those submitted to the governing body, FIFA. South Korean media reported that the Korea Football Association said the move was “in order to minimize exposing the strengths of the nation team” while they practiced, with other teams’ coaches unable to ascertain the players’ moves and positions by number alone.

Reports suggest that the move was set into action when it was learnt that representatives from the fellow Group H Belgium team would be analyzing the Ghana game.

They also must have received some similar intel prior to their 28 May game against Tunisia in Seoul World Cup Stadium, since during this match midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung could be seen wearing number 10 instead of his regular 7. Normally, forward Park Chu-Young wears 10 but at that time was instead sporting Kim Shin-wook’s number 18, who in turn was wearing 17.

It wasn’t reported what, if any, punishment the Korean Football Association would receive for this action, but it would presumably be relatively light considering changing a player’s number alone wouldn’t really confuse anyone for that long. In a sport with such light padding it shouldn’t be hard to pick out a nation’s top players by their faces, names, playing style or any number of distinguishing factors.

Many Korean readers of the news agreed, calling the scheme “senseless” and wondering whether this was the best the team’s managers could do in terms of tactics. Other remain supportive of the national team, commenting that they thought it was “a wise choice” to mix things up.

In the end you have to admit they’re doing what they can to win, and even though the number change idea was rather flimsy, it’s possible they could have caught a scout on an off day and tricked them enough to get a slight advantage in an important game. Unless, of course, this whole debacle has instead caused managers and media outlets all over the world to focus entirely on the Korean players and their actual numbers…

Source: Sanspo (Japanese)
Video: YouTube – 가는거야좋아

Highlights of the Korea Republic vs Tunisia