PSG, South Korea: Kang-in Lee is already under pressure


By: Manu Tournoux

On Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain won 6-2 against Montpellier at the end of the 26th day of Ligue 1. If Kylian Mbappé shone with a hat-trick, Kang-in Lee also scored a goal. A small event since it had been more than 4 months since the South Korean last found the net in the French championship. His last achievement in L1 dates back to November 3 against…the MHSC. A team that succeeds in Lee. In the meantime, he scored a goal in the Champions Trophy against TFC on January 3, as well as a double against Bahrain in the Asian Nations Cup.

An incident that cost him dearly

A competition in which he played 6 matches. But he could have not played the last game against Jordan on February 6. A few hours before the semi-final of the tournament, the PSG player and other teammates clashed with their captain Heung-min Son. The latter called to order the players who wanted to participate in ping-pong games. Tempers flared when the Parisian insulted the Tottenham player, who grabbed Lee by the collar and injured his finger during the altercation.

In the process, several elements of the group asked that Kang-in Lee not play the 1/2 final. But Jürgen Klinsmann, who was the coach at the time, held firm and played the Incheon native. Afterward, the German admitted that this fight and this choice had certainly counted in the 2-0 defeat. Then, everyone returned to the club. But the affair broke out publicly. Lee repeatedly apologized to Son. Meanwhile, the South Korean football federation said it was studying the case of Kang-in Lee, who was also let go by several sponsors in the country. In the midst of a storm, he was able to count on the outstretched hand of interim coach Hwang Sun-hong.

Lee is still criticized

The latter summoned him to the March gathering.“Regarding Lee Kang-in, I communicated directly with both players. Lee Kang-in would like to sincerely apologize to football fans and players (…) If we continue without calling Kang-in Lee, the crisis can be overcome, but I don't think the problem will be solved by not calling him. not calling this time and calling him next time. From my experience, I think there are always problems like this within the team. However, the key is how quickly you resolve it.” So he took the bull by the horns to resolve this problem.

Despite everything, many in South Korea believe that he should have received a disciplinary sanction, or even never returned. But Lee is there. Sports Chosun explains that he arrived in the country in the morning. He was greeted by some fans who asked him to sign jerseys. The player complied with a smile. But the South Korean media added that many thought he would “lower your head“and that he”would apologize at the airport“. He displayed a very different attitude than expected since he “walked out confidently with a smile on his face“. A behavior that some consider inappropriate.

A public apology and two meetings to make amends

But the staff and the federation, who expect an impeccable and respectful attitude from him, are counting on him. A member of the federation also explained to Sports Hankook : “after the national team's official press conference to be held on March 20 at 3:30 p.m. at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, we plan to arrange a meeting for Kang-in Lee to express his feelings among the supporters. Discussions with the player have not yet taken place.” But the local media ensures that the Parisian is “likely to accept this offer to be forgiven by the public“. He will be able to use the words if of course he accepts the federation's request.

Lee will also be able to respond on the field, where he knows how to express himself best. He will have two matches, counting for the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, to do so since South Korea will face Thailand on March 21 at home and before playing the return match on March 26 in Bangkok. Two crucial meetings for Lee. Sports Hankook writing : “the period of March could allow the great forgiveness. Lee can apologize directly in front of the fans and show off his skills. Lee wants to spend this March meaningfully more than anyone.” Expected at the turning point, the 23-year-old player will have to be up to the challenge of winning back a country very disappointed in him. PSG hopes that he will succeed in his redemption mission.

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