Fans Eye View | We can learn from Korea

Gerard Vasta is on the ground in Korea watching the Socceroos in their debut EAFF East Asian Cup appearance and believes Australia can learn from Korea ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup.

Gerard Vasta is on the ground in Korea watching the Socceroos in their debut EAFF East Asian Cup appearance and believes Australia can learn from Korea ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup.

Coming into Korea, you notice that things here are different. Not just the prevalence of street food, manic twisting streets and efficient public transport but there are also different societal concepts in Korean society that we don-t have equivalents for, which you either sense subtly or experience full on. It-s only natural then that the football culture has it-s own flavour over here.

As Hosts of the Asian Cup in 2015, Australia hopes to make links in understanding with our neighbours. With Australia being hosted by Korea now through the invitation to the EAFF East Asian Cup it-s a perfect time to look at what can be learnt and adapted to Australia's organisation through the eyes of our Korean hosts.

Seoul-s World Cup Stadium may even be misnamed. It-s a whole complex of shopping, cafes, and entertainment. The love of having everything accessible at all hours of the day is something you just don-t get in Australia, and it-s almost expected that there is always something to do, see, and taste whenever you want.

The 2015 Asian Cup is a real opportunity to showcase Australian music, culture and food in a format familiar to our visitors; stopping short of building new facilities all this can be encompassed in a streetscape of sprawling high quality street food, along with performers and space to mingle.

A walk down Hongdae in Seoul will showcase all this perfectly and more. And who wouldn't want to have an all Aussie experience with pies with mushy peas and an atmospheric setting to meet your friends to relax out in the open and listen to live music pre-game? Just as travelling fans want to soak up all they can in Korea these 10 days, so too do travellers to Australia. A more dynamic pre-game experience with a format familiar to travelling Asian fans seems a win-win for organisers.

Fan participation in Korean stadiums seems more involved than Australia. Some people commented that even at the most important night of football in Australia this year, the final World Cup Qualifier in Sydney, apart from the active supporter area, not a lot of active and certainly orchestrated cheering was happening. Much like a call and response of the Western Sydney Wanderers which became a big part of the game day experience and even a drawcard for those travelling to Parramatta last season, when the Taeguk Warrior supporters start chanting the stadium will follow with one voice. This is a great opportunity to learn from the great Japanese and Korean supporters and match them in the stands. We need to get organised as a whole so that there is no chance that we-ll be drowned out in our own backyard.

Although we can get far through sharing football cultural knowledge, at some point it wouldn-t hurt if we could understand each other, first behaviourally and emotionally and finally through language. Korean relationships are based on seniority in position and age and sentiments such as Chemyeon (keeping reputation), Bunuigi (keeping a pleasant atmosphere), Nunchi (understanding without speaking) Kibun (keeping feelings positive), Jeong (compassion and empathy) and Han (enduring long held saddness and pain). Although these may seem familiar it is their application which can be difficult in social settings. And yes that applies in the stadium too! Applying these concepts definitely makes a difference, but the main thing is the effort taken to accommodate the Korean culture which is always appreciated.

Considerable time has been spent devoted to how this can be achieved for the Asian Cup and beyond for the economic benefit of Australia. What will eventuate in Australian-Asian understanding in the future is hoped to be helped along by 3 weeks in January 2015. The Lowy Institute hosted a forum that delved into this last November and The Australian Embassy will hope to push the awareness of such objectives at a luncheon in Seoul at the Socceroos hotel on Monday. What is key though are that the Australian fans who will be on the ground with the visitors.

What will benefit the fans, talking heads, and the future generations is some education disguised as fun to build the bridge to get Australia excited about hosting the Asia Cup in 2015 . Primary and high schools could be taught the nuances of asian culture and communication and then sent out into the stadiums to support on their behalf. Adults too could benefit, perhaps whole companies with links to Asia could adopt nations and learn about them as they support and welcome contemporaries. This is not without precedent with Koreans not only supporting their own but also getting behind visiting countries in organised support at the 2002 World Cup on which they were joint hosts with Japan.

Australia will definitely host a great event, but what will be remembered apart from scorelines and sporting history is what will be felt by fans. Orientating ourselves to Asia needs to be embraced which doesn-t happen simply through being part of the AFC. It-s going to be a fun few weeks and the benefit can last indefinitely, the best result for everyone involved.