IF right is might, South Korea will stage the 2002 World Cup football finals. If money is might, Japan will host the tournament. Bit simplistic, maybe, but that's what the bidding process boils down to. In terms of soccer pedigree, it's prize breed versus mongrel. South Korea have played in four World Cup finals and Japan none, although they would have been in the United States last year if the team had kept their nerve in the final qualifying game. In terms of soccer swag, it's billions versus millions. The J.League has been a huge commercial success and Japan's corporate muscle bulges whilst Korea's merely ripples. The Japanese have vowed to splash out US$5.2 billion to upgrade facilities while South Korea's cash commitment is a quarter of that figure. And while Korea have the giant Hyundai conglomerate in their corner the Japanese cheer squad includes Mitsubishi, Sanyo and Nissan. The wily Koreans, who pinched the 1988 Olympics from under the noses of the Japanese, have attempted to turn this deficit into political profit with some subtle sniping at their rival. 'Japan is an economic superpower with the likes of Sanyo and Mitsubishi but if Japan tries to over-dominate the whole of Asia it will be very unhappy for all Asian people especially given the very unhappy history in the recent past,' said Chung Moon-joon, a leading light in Korea's push for the World Cup. 'In Asia, Japan is too hegemonic a power. If Korea stages the 2002 World Cup it will be good for Japan. 'Japan could be like a big brother by helping us host it and manage and operate it.' Cheeky stuff from Chung which reflected the animosity that still exists between Korea and their former colonial rulers. It's that simmering resentment which has killed stone dead all attempts to have the two countries agree to a co-hosting compromise. The idea is supported by the Asian Football Confederation and several politicians from both countries but its very airing causes the hackles to rise in Korea with the ever so sensitive Bidding Committee for the 2002 World Cup firing off faxes to newspapers that dare mention the possibility. But the reality is that staging World Cup matches in Japan and Korea is the only practicable route to take given the phenomenal growth of the tournament. Thirty two teams will compete in France in 1998 and with the rise in standards there could well be a case for increasing the numbers by even more. A World Cup of such size could be staged in either Japan or Korea but it would be a squeeze. Far better, surely, to split the matches between the two countries and guarantee the very best of facilities to players, officials and spectators. Rugby and cricket have opted for the co-hosting option for their next World Cups and it would be sensible for FIFA to follow their lead. Japan and Korea should be told to lay aside their differences for the good of football and combine their enormous resources and sporting savvy to put on a show to remember. Wisdom, on this occasion, is might.