Fans Pack AFC Match in Suwon to See Spanish Football Star

      February 20, 2020 11:06

      A large crowd of people packed a stadium in Suwon on Wednesday to watch a legendary Spanish player take the field in a match in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League.

      Some 200,000 fans attended the group-stage match between Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Vissel Kobe of Japan in the annual AFC event, and many of them were apparently admirers of Kobe's captain Andres Iniesta, whose illustrious career included nine Spanish Primera Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and the 2010 FIFA World Cup victory.

      Andres Iniesta of Vissel Kobe (left) dribbles the ball in a match against Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Yonhap

      A 50-m-long queue had already formed outside the stadium an hour and a half before the kickoff. There were some 500 away fans visiting from Japan, and many Korean fans were also there simply to see Iniesta in action.

      A seemingly endless stream of people entered the stadium wearing masks amid the coronavirus scare, but the Korean club said it seemed that the virus did not stop fans from coming to the game.

      "Even considering the fact that it was the first home game of the season, ticket sales exceeded our expectation for a weekday match in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. That was largely due to Iniesta's presence," said a Bluewings staffer.

      Spectators wear masks in a match between Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Vissel Kobe in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Yonhap

      Iniesta is well past his prime, but offered glimpses of his old brilliance several times with stunning passes and ball-keeping skills. It was his second visit to Korea. The first was with FC Barcelona in July 2004 for a friendly match in Suwon, where he played as a substitute from the 54th minute.

      This time, despite his age, Iniesta played a full match for Kobe, which secured a 1-0 victory thanks to a late goal by Kyogo Furuhashi in the 90th minute.

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