For fans of professional soccer’s Suwon Samsung, snow is the stuff of romance.
On Dec. 7, 2008, in the second leg of the K League championship match at Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon defeated archrival FC Seoul 2-1 to secure the title.
As the game drew to a close, the snow fell heavily. The heavens seemed to be celebrating.
Suwon hasn’t won a league title since, and every year when the “first snow” falls, fans think back to that fiery winter of 2008.
On the morning of the 2023 season’s K League 1 final, there were a couple of flurries in the Suwon sky, but by noon, it was no longer snowing.
Suwon drew 0-0 with Gangwon and suffered the humiliation of being relegated to the K League 2 (2nd Division) for the first time in its history.
A win would have put them in the relegation playoffs and allowed them to challenge for a spot in the top flight, but they played lethargically and eventually fell short.
The mood was good before the game.
The supporters’ section was packed an hour before kickoff. Fans showed their support for the Suwon team with red heart-shaped card sections.
Suwon was on a roll, having won their previous two games.
Kim Mo-kun, a high school student who attended the game with his friends, said, “Suwon finally got into a groove at the end. Kim Joo-chan will score and we will win,” he shouted.
The Suwon fans cheered their players to the top of their lungs, and while Kangwon had the advantage on the field, the crowd support was overwhelmingly in their favor.
When Suwon FC equalized in the fifth minute of the second half after trailing 0-1 in a match played at the same time at the Suwon Sports Complex, Suwon fans became even more desperate as they dropped to the bottom of the live leaderboard.
The chants that rang out until late stoppage time were silenced as if the referee had hit the mute button when he blew the final whistle. Suwon fans here and there wiped away tears.
Sadness quickly turned to anger. The supporters sang the “go out and die” chant for the opposing team towards the Suwon players.
CEO Lee Jun, acting head coach Yeom Ki-hoon, head coach Oh Dong-seok, and Kim Bo-kyung took the microphone to apologize to the fans.
Still unable to cut the minutes, the supporters threw a couple of lit red salt flames onto the field, and the corridor connecting the field, locker room, and press conference hall reeked with the pungent smell of red salt.
Police were reportedly keeping a close eye on the situation, fearing that fans would start a riot if Suwon were relegated.
However, a few dozen fans confronted police at the entrance to the club’s office, but nothing serious happened.
The majority of the fans, who had been facing the ‘specter of relegation’ all season, seemed to have accepted the ‘reality’ early and went home quietly. 토토사이트