The Words The Kwak Family

Sports for More than Sports' Sake

Chung Hwan Kwak
December 2007

Rev. Kwak's message this month is combined from two reports he gave at the Cheon Jeong Peace Palace in December after visits to Australia and Spain connected with his football (soccer) related responsibilities. In October, Rev. Kwak became a member of the Strategic Committee of the world governing body of football (FIFA), and he has hopes that the sport will emerge as a catalyst for global peace and goodwill.

As you know, Father began to work with football, and he is the first person to connect a realistic ideology for peace with football. Hitherto, no one had thought of this idea or at least tried to do such a thing, but Father made it happen.

In 1989, we founded the Ilhwa Cheonma Football Club. At that time, we didn't know about Father's plan, and Father didn't explain in much detail. He did mention that we have to achieve many things through football and other sports.

There are fourteen football clubs in Korea and those football clubs are owned by the top Korean corporations. Out of all those clubs, Ilhwa has won the championship title seven times. That is why the Ilhwa Football Club's flag has seven stars. If you become the league champion, you get a star. Among fourteen clubs, six do not have any stars.

Samsung, Posco, LG, Hyundai and other major corporations launched football teams six years earlier than we did. Among those clubs, Posco has four stars. Samsung has only three stars. Even though they have strong teams and good football players, it is difficult to become the champion.

People don't know us, so Christians oppose us, and major corporations always criticize their club managers for losing to Ilhwa (because it is a comparatively small company). Sometimes the president or head of a football club will come to the Ilhwa club's director, Park Gyu-nam, to ask for mercy! It is so competitive, but with God's protection and heaven's fortune, Ilhwa has won the championship seven times.

Father's dream

Our task is to accomplish Father's intention through football. Father doesn't just want to show high-level football matches to people. Father wants to contribute to the cause of peace through football. That is his dream. We have to realize that dream in front of the world by connecting football with the providence.

Later, we must teach people about True Parents, who made this possible, and who are trying to realize the peaceful, ideal world. We have to explain why Father chose football as a tool for peace. With that in mind, we struggled to create a motto and came up with the "dream of peace."' Out of all the sports in the world, Father picked football, because it is internationally well known, popular and influential. It is his way of spreading the dream of peace as fast as he can. That is why he founded the Ilhwa Football Club. Do you understand now? The issue is how we can spread the dream of peace concept to the world.

Launching the Peace Cup

Father founded the Peace Cup in 2003. If I start talking about how difficult it was to start the Peace Cup, it would take all our time! In short, without the approval of the international football federation, FIFA, we would not have been able to host that kind of international, intercontinental football event. FIFA is a global football association with 205 member nations, a large budget and great influence. To have an official tournament with an official title, FIFA's approval is necessary.

Football is one of the most influential sports; my intention is to make this dream of peace a brand, communicate it through the Peace Cup and fulfill Father's dream of peace wherever the Peace Cup tournament is hosted. When I go overseas, one of the things I envy is the packed football stadiums I see and hear about. I meet many well-known figures and explain to them how the Peace Cup operates and why it is valuable. I tell them Father created it. And I emphasize that we have to realize the dream of peace. The next tournament, the 2009 Peace Cup, will be held in Spain. This is wonderful news! We don't really understand the significance of this. In the FIFA ranking system for the world's national football clubs, Spain is very high.

Looking back, to have held the Peace Cup, an intercontinental tournament with internationally well-known clubs, as early as 2003, was almost impossible. Yet under God's guidance and with heavenly fortune, the tournament did happen, and it has already become internationally recognized. Receiving directions about the Peace Cup from Father, I always bear in mind that he wants us to implement the ideology of "peace-through-football"-not just to hold football tournaments.

The purpose of my recent visit to Spain was to conclude the talks for the tournament. We will hold the opening ceremony for the fourth Peace Cup in Madrid and will be holding the games in Andalusia, a region of Spain that was the site of a kingdom back in biblical times. The people there proudly claim Columbus as one of their own and Picasso's hometown, Malaga, is also in Andalusia. It is one of the key tourist areas in Europe and a propitious place to play football. I brought with me a flag and the Peace Cup and conveyed them at the conclusion of the negotiations. Articles about the Peace Cup tournament coming to Spain spread the news around the world.

Preparations for any famous global tournament have to begin at least a year and a half in advance. The Real Madrid team will host the opening ceremony of the 2009 Peace Cup. The team has its own agents and its own advertising agency and so forth. It also sells exclusive rights to broadcast its games.

It's quite extraordinary when you think that we are inviting eight high-caliber teams. Yet, I feel that spirit world is assisting us many times and I am truly grateful for this assistance. So we are planning to hold the opening ceremony and opening match of the Peace Cup in the Real Madrid Stadium, which can hold 85,000 people.

I believe that from 2009, the Peace Cup will recoup its expenses and even earn extra money that can be invested. Not a single penny of the money we make through the Peace Cup goes into our pockets; it is all used for the world peace movement based on the dream of peace. People in the sports business world have had a hard time believing this. However, because Father has actually been doing this, they cannot deny the altruistic nature of the Peace Cup and have decided to cooperate with us.

A global football charity

Hosting the Peace Cup costs a lot of money, but even so Father told us to donate a million dollars from the first Peace Cup (2003), and told us to support the development of football in third world countries. We had spent an enormous amount of money to host the Peace Cup and on top of that, he was telling us to donate a million dollars to a new project! He didn't tell us in advance... We asked Pele (the day before the final game) to announce this the next day.

The plan was to help promote youth football but to ensure that we supported the young people in nations in the midst of war or in relatively poor countries. We strategized on how young people in struggling nations might hold football tournaments and provided support for purchasing uniforms and paying other expenses.

I considered whether it would be better to distribute the money through a well-known charitable organization or to give it directly to the developing nations. In the end I felt that it would be best if the funds could be applied meaningfully

This project is known as "Play Football Make Peace" and has sponsored tournaments all over the world for the cause of peace by a civic-minded organization, the World Association of NGOs (WANGO). So WANGO took on the responsibility of developing youth football in less developed countries, using the one million dollars Father donated. Although at the time I didn't comprehend the significance of it, we gave that money to the world. In 2005, Father again donated a million dollars, and once more in 2007 -- three times in all. We were in the red but we continued to donate the money -- which actually created the foundation from which we could develop.

The Peace Star Cup

Isn't it noble when sports organizations focus on charity? How might we influence the sporting world so that charity becomes more of a continual focus? We can do that by developing a relationship with FIFA, and the Asian Football Association and encouraging them to wield their influence over global sports to emphasize charity more.

Did you see the Peace Star Cup in Korea? We began it this year. Many TV stars like football. So, we divided actors from TV series into a green team and a blue team. They are pretty good; they play better than most people! After creating the green and blue teams, we formed teams of singers, theater actors, traditional movie actors, models and comedians -- a total of six teams.

At the beginning we wondered how influential this would be, but it turned out that young people did want to come to see comedians and actors play football. We didn't just host the Peace Star Cup; we donated the profits to UNICEF, an organization that helps children. In this way, we made a relationship with UNICEF and donated $50,000. Fifty thousand dollars is not a small amount of money, but it is small compared to the cost of hosting the Peace Cup. It's a way to build good relationships. In a gesture of thanks, a UNICEF representative came to the opening ceremony of the Peace Star Cup.

Inspiring the football leadership

I reported to Father that I became aware of God's interest in the potential for football once He had dropped me right into the middle of FIFA's Strategic Committee. I explained to Father that reflecting on the good that can come through football, I felt the grace of God, the grace of True Parents and the grace of the spirit world.

Even though I have become a member of FIFA's Strategic Committee, nothing just fell neatly into place; I have to develop a relationship with the FIFA chairman and other major figures. Since I began to invest my heart in these relationships, I began to see ways in which I might be able to make a contribution.

I recently met the chairman of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Many football association chairmen and other important figures were also present. By the grace of God, I had a chance to meet the AFC chairman in person and to speak to him face to face. I said to him, "If football focuses only on profit, people will speak badly of football and of the leaders of the football industry. For the sake of their honor and for the benefit of the tournaments, football associations should not focus only on profit."

Following that, I prepared a presentation about how we can contribute to the world through football. Let's talk about youth football; if young people focus on playing football, they can avoid drugs and distance themselves from juvenile delinquency and from lewd behavior. Sports can help a person develop relationships with other young people, which is also beneficial. To be good at sports, mind-body unity is necessary, so engaging in sports calls for a healthy mind and a healthy body.

From the perspective of a nation looking to build a healthy society, sports is one of a variety of ways for people to harmonize, which helps eliminate conflicts within society. People can harmonize around a shared passion for sports.

From a public-minded perspective, promoting sports in society encourages unity between people, making for a better society. In doing so, it can reduce the level of lewd behavior in society and, by extension, even protect people from contracting AIDS. Going further, it can help bring peace to the world. We can thus achieve much more through sports than we might have originally expected. 

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