Dictators Make Lousy Soccer Coaches

“Athlete” Kim Jong-il messes things up again for North Korea.

Kim Jong-il is the best golfer in the history of mankind. It’s a fact. Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus all pale in comparison to the “Dear Leader.” He had eleven hole-in-ones the first time he ever picked up a club. The guy’s amazing.

This suggests one of two things: golf is really easy, or Kim Jong-il is the greatest athlete in the history of the world. I can attest to number one being completely false, but I can’t flat-out deny the second option. I’ve never seen “The Most Faithful Incarnation” lace up his sneakers and kick a ball or swing a club.

Unfortunately, the only currently living God (at least, on record) is getting up there in years. We think he’s 69. Over time his golf game has slipped a bit. He’s only averaging about four or five hole-in-ones per 18 holes now, so like any great athlete, he’s been modest enough to switch his attentions to coaching.

Great athletes have sterling track records in management, so it’s totally understandable that the “Supreme Creature Like Steel” attempted to walk on the waters of coaching. In one of the strangest developments of the last century, though, Kim Jong-il failed miserably.

The North Korean soccer team surprised us all with their opening 2-1 loss to Brazil in the World Cup. Somehow, this team had red-white-and-blue-blooded Americans rooting for a communist institution. Their defensive-mindedness looked ready to keep them in each game until the end, just as it did against the mighty Brazilians.

We were all foolish to think this would last. As Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy reported, “The Bright Star” ordered a change in tactics for the North Korean squad. He wanted more goals. The defense needed to push higher, so “The Center of the Party” sent specific orders to the North Korean coaches as to exactly where each defender should be positioned on the field. The end result: a 7-0 loss to Portugal, and a 4-0 loss to the Ivory Coast.

While your country might need a dictator to win the World Cup (or not), let’s just hope he isn’t coaching.

—Ryan O’Hanlon

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