The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who passed away early Monday in South Korea, was an avid sports fan who sponsored fishing tournaments, founded South Korea’s most successful soccer club and created an international soccer event that attracted such famous clubs as Spain’s Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur of England, and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Rev. Moon loved to fish, and spent countless hours fishing for salmon in Alaska, for tuna in Gloucester, Mass., and recently for bass in Lake Mead, Nev.
But his greatest sports passion was soccer, a sport that he played as a young man, and one in which he later invested substantial resources, working with Brazilian star Pele to create the Peace Cup, which has featured some of the world’s biggest and most prestigious clubs.
In 1989, Rev. Moon founded Ilhwa Chunma FC soccer team in Seoul, which was sponsored by the Ilhwa Ginseng Tea company, and nicknamed Chunma — the Unicorns. The club was based in a number of cities and ultimately settled in 2001 in Seongnam, a town one hour south of Seoul.
At first, the mayor of Seongnam wanted to expel the team because of the club’s affiliation with Rev. Moon's Unification Church. The mayor was running for re-election in the heavily Protestant town and used the attack on the team as part of his platform.
Fans demonstrated against the mayor by lying down in front of his car. The mayor relented, and Seongnam Ilhwa went on to win four Korean league titles, the Korean Cup knockout tournament and the Asian Champions League title in 2010, making it Korea’s most successful team.
Rev. Moon also established two soccer teams in Brazil: Atletico Sorocaba and CENE.
In 2009, Real Madrid, along with its prized new asset Cristiano Ronaldo, competed in the fourth edition of the tournament in Spain, which featured four teams that have been European champions. That tournament also involved Italy’s Juventus, FC Porto of Portugal, Spanish side Sevilla FC and French club Olympique Lyon, but the $2.4 million prize went to English club Aston Villa.
At the conclusion of the 2005 tournament, Rev. Moon donated $1 million to promote youth soccer in the developing world. His Play Soccer, Make Peace youth program held events in 35 countries, including the troubled Gaza Strip.View Entire Story
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