In this file photo from June 6, 2021, Lee Jong-sung of Seongnam FC (L) tries to dribble past Paik Seung-ho of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors during a K League 1 match at Tancheon Sports Complex in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)
Two additional players in the top South Korean football league have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as the pandemic threatens to disrupt the upcoming match schedule even further.
Seongnam FC of the K League 1 announced Tuesday a ninth member of the club tested positive for COVID-19. Previously, six staff members and two players had turned in positive results after polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Seongnam said all 46 players, coaches and staffers who took part in training camp in Goseong, Gangwon Province, from last Monday to Saturday, have been tested.
Also on Tuesday, one player from Daegu FC tested positive for the virus, one day after returning from Uzbekistan, where the club had completed the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League.
Daegu said 36 other players, coaches and staff members who had traveled to Uzbekistan all tested negative.
The league has postponed a match between FC Seoul and Jeju United set for next Tuesday, after one Jeju player was infected with COVID-19 last Tuesday and forced his team into self-isolation.
The K League 1 has been on a midsummer break since the end of May, and clubs are scheduled to return to the pitch this month. No decision has been made on Seongnam's next scheduled match against Incheon United next Tuesday, or Daegu's upcoming match against Ulsan Hyundai FC on July 21.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) decided on Monday to suspend its regular season, starting this week, after five players from two clubs were infected with the virus. With an Olympic break coming up from next Monday to Aug. 9, the next KBO game is scheduled to be played on Aug. 10.
The K League, though, isn't yet considering pressing pause on the season.
"Unless the situation becomes more serious, we'll only postpone matches involving the three affected clubs for now," a league official said, referring to Jeju, Seongnam and Daegu. "Those matches will be played later, and that will allow us to proceed with the season normally."
Because K League teams mostly play on weekends, save for occasional midweek matches, there is more wiggle room for the schedule maker to slot in postponed matches later in the season. (Yonhap)