FC SEOUL & SEOUL WORLD CUP MATCHDAY EXPERIENCE
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Living in Seoul in my childhood and pre-teens one of my favourite activities and sporting events that I liked to go to was FC Seoul games at the World Cup Stadium. FC Seoul based in Mapo-Gu district are one of the most successful clubs and potentially the most known in Korean football. Since it’s been years since attending a match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium where I had spent an extensive period of time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My first game was an international friendly between Australia and South Korea where I instantly fell in love with the stadium and soon later the club FC Seoul. Nothing much has changed from the stadium or atmosphere prior to kick off with fans gathering outside the subway station, and around the parking lot and open public spaces where merch stores and food vendors are placed around the staircases which lead to the stadium gates and ticket offices. All these inclusions to the pre-game experience very much as they did when I was younger build a feeling of anticipation.
Seoul World Cup Stadium which is the country’s second largest stadium just behind The Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, which hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. Now the famous Olympic Stadium currently services itself as the home ground for the other central Seoul club which plays in the second division of Korean Football Seoul E-Land. Seoul World Cup Stadium is the largest soccer/football specific stadium in the country and in the continent seating roughly around 66,780 fans. Rarely does FC Seoul games sell out so acquiring a ticket has never been and still wasn’t a concern even despite bigger fixtures in the league such as derby’s against other teams in the Seoul Metropolitan Area not being able to sell out. An important note to mention is even against their big rivals Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC which is considered the biggest derby in the country being named the SuperMatch still struggles to obtain a sold out crowd. Seoul this evening was playing a Gangwon FC team based just north east of Seoul in the neighboring province which on the subway is still somewhat manageable to reach the region. FC Seoul out of most K-League teams is where you’ll see the most foreigners as their is a small but somewhat noticeable number of non-Korean attendees. While entering the stadium there really hasn’t been much change to anything really as the concession stands still seem to be serving the same usual menu with same chaotic but admirable lineups to get your drinks and snacks. Passing through the tunnel on the second level of the stadium realizing it truly is a remarkable stadium and breathtaking even. Simply without having a bad seat in the house, making my decision where I was going to seat was never going to be a issue. As the club sells for General Admission in certain sections of the ground especially for sections in the second bowl.
(PICTURES IN THE DAYTIME ARE FROM FOLLOWING TWO DAYS WHEN I ATTEMPTED TO GO TO THE WORLD CUP MUSEUM INSIDE THE GROUND)
Sitting behind FC Seoul’s ultras it was a breath of fresh air to see and hear real support groups singing and jumping up and down in support for their club. With drums and coordinated singing they really are the livelihood of the stadium as it seemed to have an attendance that night of no more than 30,000. Half the stadium was full despite being a top flight league game. That’s one of the issues in Korea as China and Japan have managed to be in the top percentile for average attendance for domestic league games while one of the biggest clubs in the country if not the biggest aren’t able to break or atleast struggle to break 50% of their stadium attendance. Two weeks prior to this weekend fixture, Juventus was in town to play the K-League All Stars in a friendly match which was sold out but domestic matches for some odd reason can’t get the same results something to be looked into more because in all honesty this is a football mad country where they love the sport and take it seriously but their domestic league can’t get the same attendance results.
Despite being half full in the crowd you couldn’t really tell it’s half empty if you closed your eyes and just listened you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as the ultras really vamp up the atmosphere and even the regular fans are engaged and involved. Regardless of the quality on the pitch both sides were able to have chances but really nothing drastic that broke the deadlock as the match ended scoreless with a draw. Besides the score the chances generated left spectators with enough excitement all over the stadium as everyone was involved and singing all 90 minutes. Truly showing with proof that football isn’t always about what’s on the pitch but what’s in the stands and crowds as despite being half full the fans and stadiums officials were the real highlight as they always make the match experience at one of Seoul’s and Asia‘s most premium stadiums unique and enjoyable.