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Red Devils vow support for national soccer team, despite recent dispute

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 14, 2024 - 17:12

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A message posted on the Instagram page for the Red Devils, the official supporters' group for South Korean national soccer, vows continued supported for the national team. (Instagram) A message posted on the Instagram page for the Red Devils, the official supporters' group for South Korean national soccer, vows continued supported for the national team. (Instagram)

The official supporters' group for the South Korean national soccer teams on Thursday vowed continued support for the men's team, in light of calls by some fans to boycott the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Red Devils posted on to the group's Instagram page a message of support for the team, saying it will not boycott the two matches against Thailand slated for later this month. In the aftermath of a feud among national team players during the Asian Cup in Qatar, several fans have said they would boycott the Group C matches in the second round of the Asian qualifying tests for the 2026 World Cup.

"The essence of the Red Devils is to support the national team. When we lose the essence, we have no reason to exist. The Korea Football Association is to blame for the incident, and there is no reason we should not support the players on the field," the message wrote.

After South Korea's 2-0 loss to Jordan in the semifinals of Asian Cup in Qatar last month, reports of an altercation between team captain Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in surfaced. Lee shouldered most of the blame for what was viewed by the public as his "mutinous" action, with some calling for him to never be part of the national team again.

Many more soccer fans called for the resignation of KFA chief Chung Mong-gyu, who was accused of unilaterally having decided on the appointment of former head coach Juergen Klinsmann. Klinsmann was fired after the Asian Cup, citing a supposed lack of commitment, tactical preparation and questionable leadership in the recent quarrel between Son and Lee.

The calls for a boycott were not as effective as some fans may have hoped, as the KFA said Thursday that the upcoming match against Thailand on March 21 at Seoul World Cup Stadium has sold out.

After the Seoul match, South Korea will head to Bangkok for a second game, slated for March 26.

The national team already has one win against each of Singapore and China in the second round of the World Cup qualifiers. It needs to finish among the top two out of the four teams in the group to advance to the next round.