In a about 48 hours, the first REAL, non-video-game football match in our new reality is set to take place, and it will be live-streamed to a worldwide audience on YouTube and Twitter as well! (With English commentary to boot!)
On Friday, May 8, at 7pm local time (11am BST; 6am EDT), Jeonbuk will host Suwon in the opening match of the 2020 K League 1, the top football division in South Korea.
The #KLeague said Simon Hill, who has called Premier League and A-League (Australia) matches, will provide English commentary.— Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1) May 6, 2020
Korea’s model response to the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled the return of sports in the country, with football now following in baseball’s steps (which ESPN is showing here in the States, that’s how desperate we are). Matches will of course be played behind closed doors, with all the now-familiar protocols regarding hygiene, isolation, and testing. (Unlike in Germany and elsewhere however, a positive COVID-19 case would result in the entire team going into two-week quarantine, with their matches accordingly postponed. The K League’s hoping to complete at least 22 matches per team this season.)
#StayStrong and Enjoy #Kleague Opening Match Worldwide LIVE on Twitter! #K리그 개막전 전세계 트위터 생중계!— K League (@kleague) May 6, 2020
⚽ Jeonbuk Hyundai vs Suwon Samsung
Jeonju World Cup Stadium
⏱ May 8th, 7PM KST
Jeonbuk are the defending champions and the undoubted top team in the country, having won 7 of the last 11 titles and having not finished outside of the top three during that time. In 2016, they also won the Asian Champions League.
They are currently managed by a familiar name, José Morais, a long-time collaborator and two-time Chelsea assistant to José Mourinho. He’s lost just 5 of his 47 matches in charge of Jeonbuk and was named the K League Manager of the Year last year.
While I’m entirely unfamiliar with the K League beyond the cursory research of the past 10 minutes, I’m looking forward to this.
For Jeonbuk, former Premier League players Kim Bo-Kyung, who once scored against Manchester United for Cardiff City, and Lee Dong-gook, who’s still going strong at age 41 after a brief spell at Middlesbrough a dozen years ago are the only even remotely familiar names.
Meanwhile, Canada’s own Doneil Henry, formerly of Toronto and Vancouver in MLS, is a new arrival at Suwon this season.
But all that’s just bonus. We’ll learn their names as we go.