Korean K-League Football Is Back

After months of government-enforced shutdowns, Korea’s elite football division has returned in a newly structured format. With a tightly packed schedule of matches being played behind closed doors, the world is finally able to watch and bet upon some elite-level professional football.

Football stadium in Daegu South Korea.

Stadiums across South Korea, including the one Daegu pictured above, have been playing matches in empty arenas as broadcasters flock to distribute the football streams across the world to a highly-demanding global market. ©kamza73/Pixabay

The first game of the K-League 2020 season took place on the 8th of May and was broadcast in over 17 countries, highlighting the growing demand for football in wake of the entire global sporting being wiped out. The coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing in the locale, and outbreaks in Seoul have spiked in recent weeks. But despite this, local officials around the world are recognizing the relative importance of sport for the morale of the population. Games are being behind closed doors and many precautions including social-distancing and regular testing are being deployed to reduce the threat of further outbreaks.

Assisting the launch of the K League is Sportradar, the sports data analytics company has taken over the broadcasting rights of the league. Leading the distribution of the live match video Sportradar has brokered deals across the world and there are 12 major TV networks already lined up to televise the upcoming matches in Korea.

The live streaming via Sportradar will also be made available to betting companies, including Bet365, Betway, and Betfair. These sportsbooks have been desperate for live football action, and the impending restart of the global football calendar is a much-welcomed action by all the associated business interests.

Sportradar Broadcasting to a Global Audience

It is certainly a sign of the times when this much excitement is being stoked up by the re-commencement of the Korean K League. In normal times there is very little interest from western markets over Asian football leagues. But with the major European football leagues all on hold, there is a growing demand for live football content to be consumed in these parts of the world.

Sportradar has recognized and met this demand, in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Sportdigital Fussbal will have exclusive rights and be airing all K League matches. But the football from Korea will far exceed the boundaries of South Korea, and there is interest arising from China, India, Hong Kong, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. All of this has been made possible by Sportradar’s due diligence in these markets, with which they have long been associated, helping to also combat match-fixing in the Asian Football Confederation.

Live sport is an integral part of daily life for many people around the world, especially in these difficult and unique times. With the K League season kicking off on Friday, we are delighted to have worked with our partners – media companies, broadcasters and OTT platforms to deliver great entertainment and pulsating football action to fans across the globe.Dylan Chuan, Audiovisual Sales Director, Sportradar

The games are being played in extraordinary circumstances, and all parties involved in the matches will be subject to special measures in light of the contagious threat of COVID-19. There are indeed a series of restrictions in place throughout matches, players are not permitted to handshake, there are no fans allowed on the premises, and all coaches are required to wear facemasks.

The buzz around South Korean football is not expected to last for long however, this weekend the German Bundesliga is returning under similar restrictions. Once the major European leagues all slowly making their way back to a regular match schedule the normality in sports betting numbers will return. Until then, the K-League is at the forefront of all sports betting enthusiasts.

Premier League Hoping to Return in June

With the Korean League launching last week and the apparent success of this project becoming more clear, many European leagues are being pressured to follow a similar path. One of the most anticipated leagues of all on this timeline of return is the Premier League. With the situation in the UK still at a critical juncture, treading with caution has been the overriding mantra.

Neighboring European leagues have already stated their intentions for a quick return to normality. The Spanish LaLiga has already made it clear that they will be running a tightly packed schedule of matches that could see games being played every day for the next 2 months. But for now, the Bundesliga is on everyone’s mind.

The financial pressures alone have been immense, and clubs up and down the football pyramid have indicated that if the shutdown of football continues for much longer, insolvency is the only likely outcome. Health officials have been hesitant, and are waiting for the data to pave a path towards a justifiable live football scenario. This weekends’ Bundesliga return will be a trial for other divisions to observe, and in time, model their own re-commencement actions on.

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Football on South Korea carpet.

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