April 24, 2020 / 9:56 AM / a month ago

Soccer: K-League season to kick off on May 8 minus fans

SEOUL (Reuters) - The 2020 K-League season will kick off on May 8 behind closed doors after more than two months of delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Korean league announced on Friday.

Five days prior to its original Feb. 29 start, the 12-team league was postponed but South Korea is now among the first countries to bring a major outbreak of the virus under control.

Defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will host Suwon Samsung Bluewings in Jeonju in the league opener, the Korea Professional Football League said in a statement after a board meeting.

In keeping with the Korean government’s social distancing guidelines, early season matches will be played without fans.

Teams will play 27 matches, down from 38, with the bottom-placed side being relegated to K League 2.

The second-tier season will also begin on May 8.

If any player or member of the coaching staff was found to be infected with the virus during the season, his team would not play another match in the next two weeks at least.

With the situation improving, the league said on Monday that clubs would be allowed to play practice matches against each other.

The Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) announced on Tuesday that the 2020 regular season will begin on May 5 after being postponed from its March 28 start.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Toby Davis

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