[스포츠니어스 | 김현회 기자] With the K-League final round schedule confirmed, FC Seoul’s Park Joo-young expressed her disappointment regarding the schedule.
The schedule and matchups for the Hana OneQ K-League 1 2021 Final Round have been confirmed. Each team will play five matches from round 34 on October 30 and 31 to the final round of round 38 on December 4 and 5. The 6 teams that advance to ‘Final A’ will compete to win the championship and qualify for the AFC Champions League, and the 6 teams from ‘Final B’ will compete to stay in K League 1.
In the midst of this, FC Seoul will start the Final B schedule with an away match against Incheon United on the 30th. However, after the announcement of the schedule, Park Joo-young expressed regret through his SNS. Park Joo-young said on Instagram, “The schedule is very unfortunate. But it is still a painful day for us. Just looking at the schedule hurts my heart.” Park Joo-young posted the hashtag ‘consideration’.
October 30 of last year is the day the late Kim Nam-chun, who was a member of FC Seoul, passed away. FC Seoul played a home game against Incheon United on October 31, the next day, and on this day, they played the game with a heartbreaking memory of the deceased. It was a game that away fans could not enter due to Corona 19, but some Incheon fans expressed their joy at the Seoul World Cup Stadium after winning 1-0. Incheon Kim Do-hyuk also apologized on SNS after clapping and applauding the supporters. Park Joo-young pointed out that the federation’s consideration for the fact that Incheon had to clash again on the anniversary of the late Kim Nam-chun’s death was regrettable.
It is a painful day for the Seoul team and fans. It is natural to express regret at the decision of the Federation after confirming the schedule. Moreover, in this match against Incheon, a ceremony to commemorate Kim Do-hyuk’s 200-game K-League appearance will be held, and away fans will be allowed to enter. In a situation where emotions are not good, there is a fear of conflict that Incheon and Seoul will clash on this day. It is no wonder that Park Joo-young’s ‘remarks of conviction’ delivered through SNS are gaining sympathy. With the two teams clashing again on the anniversary of the death of the late Kim Nam-chun, there is also an opinion that the federation did too much to create a story.
However, from the perspective of the Federation, there were many issues to consider while planning the schedule. Emotionally, holding the Incheon-Seoul match on this day may not be common sense, but from the federation’s point of view, there was a reason that the match had to be played. First, the federation considered several priorities when crafting the schedule. A team that has played 17 games at home before the final round will, in principle, be allocated two games at home and three games away from home once the final round is reached. A team that has played 16 games at home before the final round will play three games at home and two away games in the final round. This is the most basic principle.
However, not all teams can play at home equally. A federation official said, “There are cases where this principle does not hold.” “As we planned the schedule, even among the teams that played 17 home games, there were cases where they had to give three home games in the final round. There were also cases where only the match had to be played at home in the final round. In this case, the home game priority is given to the team with the highest ranking. Among the teams that played 17 home games this season, there was inevitably a team that had to play three home games in the final round, and among them, Pohang, the highest ranked team, played three home games.”
Conversely, among the teams that played 16 home games this season, we had to select a team that had to play only two final rounds instead of three at home. I did it,” he said. Also, as a rule, all teams will play four matches this season, twice at home and twice on away. Incheon and Seoul, which have played 17 matches at home this season, will have to play two home games and three away games respectively in the final round. Incheon and Seoul played twice at the Seoul home this season and once at the Incheon home. The Incheon-Seoul match should be played at the Incheon home this time. This will result in two clashes at home and away.
If this principle is applied, Incheon will have no choice but to face Seoul and Pohang at home. However, Pohang must play the AFC Champions League final. Pohang departs for Saudi Arabia on November 17 for the AFC Champions League final and returns after playing against Al Hilal on the 23rd. For reasons such as COVID-19 quarantine, the Pohang team will have to wait another day in Incheon after receiving a PCR test after entering the country. The Federation considered Pohang’s route when scheduling Incheon’s two remaining home matches, the Seoul and Pohang matches. This is the reason why the Incheon-Pohang match will be held at Incheon Home on November 28th. It is difficult to change because it is also connected with the prevention of COVID-19.
If so, the only home match schedule for Incheon against Seoul is on October 30th or October 31st. If it is not on this day, the above-mentioned principle of allocating the game schedule of the Federation will be broken and the fairness will be broken. Here, the Federation decided to play three final B matches on the 30th and three final A matches on the 31st. But the variable here was the FA Cup semi-final. Gangwon will play the FA Cup semi-final on the 27th, so it was judged that it would be unreasonable to open the Gwangju-Gangwon match on the 30th. The federation changed the schedule for the Gwangju-Gangwon match and the Suwon-Jeonbuk match accordingly. As the basic principle is to open Final B on the 30th, the Incheon-Seoul match was decided to proceed without change.
Considering various conditions, the Incheon-Seoul match had no choice but to be held at the Incheon home on October 30th. Park Joo-young and those who loved the late Kim Nam-chun expressed their regrets about the Incheon match to be held on the 30th, but it was difficult for the federation to play the game in a situation where all conditions were met except on this day. A federation official said, “It is absolutely not an intentionally planned schedule in relation to the deceased.” Park Joo-young’s words of disappointment are emotionally understandable, but the federation had its own circumstances that had no choice but to unintentionally play the match after much consideration.