K-League begins today, after Coronavirus shutdown

Korean top flight the first major competition to test the post-coronavirus waters, as Jeonbuk Motors take on Suwon Bluewings in Jeonju

K-League begins after Coronavirus shutdown today
K-League begins after Coronavirus shutdown today

K-League will becomes the first major league to restart after coronavirus shutdown on Friday. Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Korea will have the attention of the whole world on Friday night, when Jeonbuk Motors – who have been champions for the past three seasons – face Suwon Bluewings in the opening game..

Korea’s top flight, which was supposed to start in February, will start today and will become the first major competition to get back under way after the devastated pandemic. Most leagues around the world were suspended or postponed as the outbreak wreaked havoc on sporting plans, Belarus, Burundi, Tajikistan and Nicaragua are the only countries which continued their football leagues.

In Europe, Germany’s Bundesliga will restart on 16 May, and other European leagues in England, Spain and Italy will follow the suit. But the K-League provides us the first glimpse of football after COVID-19 outbreak – though with social distancing norm in place it would be behind-closed-door.

Given the strict guidelines put in place to allow for the resumption of play, there will be no handshakes allowed, conversation between players and officials will be restricted, and coaches will have to wear face masks.

No fans will be allowed in the stadium, and players have been told “excessive spitting or blowing of the nose is prohibited”. The new guidelines might look like bit confusing but players have to adopt this very quickly. “During the game, players who habitually spit or talk closely will be warned,” said K-League communication officer Woo Cheoung-sik.

Adam Taggart and Terry Antonis, the two Australians play for Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

We are still waiting to get a full explanation on that.

The talking part, if that is correct, is going to be a tough one. Although I do not speak Korean, you can still communicate with your teammates so I don’t really understand if we are going to get punished if we do talk. You can just imagine there will be red cards left, right and centre if people are going to get punished for talking.

Adam Taggart, on the discipline that players are expected to follow during the match (Courtesy BBC)

I have heard that the coaching staff will be wearing masks and it probably sounds strange to everyone else but it is normal here. No one would say anything about it – on the streets or in the shops, you would not see anyone without one. I wear a mask myself here so it is sort of second nature already. You feel a bit naked running about without a mask on. I almost feel naughty.

Adam Taggart, on using mask in general and for non-playing staff (Courtesy BBC)