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Pro football body considers unified Korean team for FC Barcelona friendly

All Headlines 13:41 December 04, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's pro football body said Tuesday it is reviewing the sports ministry's proposal of forming a unified Korean team for a friendly match against Spanish giants FC Barcelona next year.

"We're currently in the process of reviewing the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's proposal," an official from the K League said. "Since Barcelona didn't mention an exact date for a friendly match, we have to consider our season schedule comprehensively."

South Korean sports minister Do Jong-whan said in a recent media interview that Barcelona, a star-studded team that includes Lionel Messi, told officials that they want to play a friendly match with a unified Korean team in July 2019.

This file photo, taken Aug. 4, 2010, shows FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) dribbling the ball past the K League All-Star team's Kim Hyung-il during a friendly match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The sports ministry then asked the Korea Football Association (KFA) to check whether the men's national football team, led by head coach Paulo Bento, could join forces with North Korea in that time period, but didn't receive a positive answer.

According to the KFA, FIFA's international match calendar shows there are no dates set for friendly matches in July 2019, meaning it would be difficult to assemble the national team.

Following the KFA's response, the ministry next approached the K League, the operator of South Korea's pro football leagues, to make a team for the Barcelona friendly.

The K League has already had experience of staging a match with Barcelona. In 2010, it invited the Spanish La Liga club to play in the K League All-Star Game in Seoul. The K League All-Star team then fell 5-2 to Barcelona, which featured stars like Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But in order to make the unified Korean team, South Korea and the K League will need go through a difficult process, including getting North Korea's agreement and selecting the players.

This file photo, taken Aug. 4, 2010, shows FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi (2nd from R) celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal against the K League All-Star team during a friendly match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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