S. Korea, Japan discussing holding men’s football friendly in March

March 3, 2021

South Korea and Japan are having discussions on holding a men’s football friendly match in Japan later this month, an official here said Wednesday.

The official with the Korea Football Association (KFA) confirmed an earlier media report that the Japan Football Association (JFA) has proposed a friendly match during the next FIFA international match window of March 22-30, despite obvious hurdles presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2019, South Korea (in red tops) and Japan are in action in the final of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)
In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2019, South Korea (in red tops) and Japan are in action in the final of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

In this file photo from Dec. 18, 2019, South Korea (in red tops) and Japan are in action in the final of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Any football match between these two bitter rivals is a must-see event. They have faced each other 79 times, with South Korea holding a substantial edge, thanks to 42 wins, 23 draws and 14 losses.

Their last showdown came in December 2019 in the South Korean city of Busan, during the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) E-1 Football Championship.

They had also met at the EAFF tournament in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Their last match in a non-tournament setting came in August 2011 in Sapporo, where the home team Japan blanked South Korea 3-0.

Travel restrictions in place in both countries would make any sporting event a huge challenge.

South Korean players and coaches must serve 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Japan, and another quarantine of 14 days will await them when they come home.

Typically, pro clubs are obligated to release players for national team matches during the FIFA match window. However, FIFA has tweaked rules during the pandemic, so that if there is mandatory quarantine of at least five days in the country of the player’s club, then the club has no obligation to make the player available.

South Korea’s K League kicked off its new season last weekend. Teams are unlikely to agree to lose their players for a month in exchange for one friendly match.

The KFA official said the national federation will reach out to K League clubs on players’ release once it gets close to finalizing the deal with the JFA.

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