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K League chief thanks fans, clubs for completing season during pandemic

All News 10:27 November 30, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The head of professional football in South Korea thanked fans and participating clubs on Monday for their role in completing the 2020 season during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kwon Oh-gap, president of the Korea Professional Football League (K League), issued a statement expressing his gratitude to clubs in the top-flight K League 1 and the second-tier K League 2 for their selflessness.

This file photo from Aug. 2, 2020, shows fans attending a K League 1 match between Busan IPark and Ulsan Hyundai FC at Busan Gudeok Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

"All the clubs put aside their own interests and worked toward the common goal of ensuring safe operation of their leagues," Kwon said. "Their joint effort served as an impetus for the K League to overcome numerous hurdles."

The coronavirus outbreak forced the K League to postpone its opening kickoff from Feb. 29 to May 8. The K League 1 season was shortened from 38 matches to 27, while the K League 2 clubs saw their season cut from 36 matches to 27.

The season wrapped up with the final K League 2 promotion match between Suwon FC and Gyeongnam FC on Sunday.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, clubs played most of the season without fans in the stands. Even during brief stretches when stadium gates were open, only a limited number of supporters could attend matches.

"It was unfortunate that we weren't able to feel the passion and energy of our supporters at stadiums," Kwon said. "But in the meantime, we had more fans watching our matches on television and new media platforms, and matches were livestreamed to viewers overseas. We were able to identify our growth potential this year, and also realize once again that we couldn't exist without our fans."

The K League 2 had a scare in late October when a Daejeon Hana Citizen player tested positive for COVID-19, but it only led to a minor adjustment to the league fixture without causing full stoppage.

"On behalf of the K League, I'd like to thank all the medical professionals for their hard work and dedication in their fight against COVID-19," Kwon said. "Though the pandemic hasn't ended, the K League will go on. It has been a challenging year but it will be a valuable learning experience for all of us. The K League will only grow from this."

In this file photo from Nov. 5, 2020, Korea Professional Football League President Kwon Oh-gap (L) poses with Ulsan Hyundai FC forward Junio Negrao during the annual K League Awards ceremony in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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