South Korea's football governing body said Tuesday it has officially asked the Asian Football Confederation and its Chinese counterpart to prepare safety measures for Korean players and fans in the upcoming World Cup qualifying match in China.
The Korea Football Association said the AFC and the Chinese Football Association will be asked to provide protections for Korean players and fans in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier slated for March 23 in Changsha, China.
The match between South Korea and China will take place amid growing tensions between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery. In what appears to be retaliatory actions over South Korea's decision to install the US anti-missile system, China has banned sales of South Korea-related tour packages and cracked down on business operations of some South Korean companies.
Concerned about possible hate crimes against South Koreans, the KFA said it asked the CFA to designate a zone for visiting supporters and increase the number of security personnel. About 200 South Korean fans are expected to travel to Changsha's Helong Stadium to watch the fifth match in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The stadium, which can accommodate some 55,000 people, already has some bad history involving South Korean fans. In 2004, a South Korean got injured after getting hit by a water bottle thrown by some Chinese fans during an Olympic football qualifying match between the two sides.
The KFA said it will hold a meeting on March 22, one day before the match, to see whether the CFA has created reliable safety measures. (Yonhap)