Coronavirus: FC Seoul 'sorry' after accidentally using sex dolls to replace fans in empty ground
18 May 2020, 17:31 | Updated: 18 May 2020, 19:10
As the debate over how and when the Premier League should return rages on, a club in South Korea have shown the dangers of playing behind closed doors.
FC Seoul have apologised after they accidentally used sex dolls rather than normal mannequins to populate their stadium for Sunday's game at home to Gwangju.
The K League 1 game was being played without spectators as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
FC Seoul said their supplier, which provides both sex dolls and clothing mannequins, had let them down - having apparently assured the club that the dolls were not "adult products".
"We had confirmed that the mannequins were made as if they were real but had nothing to do with adult products," insisted a club statement.
"But the problem was we failed to make detailed checks, which is our fault without a doubt."
In a statement posted on Instagram after the 1-0 win, the club said they were "deeply sorry" for what had happened.
"We are deeply sorry about the mannequins that were seated during the May 17, 2020 match," they said.
"However, we would like to clarify that while these mannequins have been made to look and feel like real humans, they are not for sexual use - as confirmed by the manufacturer.
The supplier "claimed they are clothing mannequins," the club added, insisting they had "double- [and] triple-checked that they are not for sexual use."
Ironically, real fans were the ones who did realise something was wrong, bombarding FC Seoul's official Instagram account as they watched the game on television.
"Just look at their breasts, they were four times bigger than those of normal mannequins," one supporter wrote.
Another said it was "so obvious" that they were sex dolls - adding that it had undermined FC Seoul's efforts "to show games for all the family".
Some of the dolls had been dressed in club kit, while others wore t-shirts with the logo of SoloS - a sex toy seller.
Other clubs in the country's top division have tried different ways to fill the empty seats, such as self-portraits drawn by young fans or toy versions of club mascots.
Reuters reports that the manufacturer of the dolls, Dalcom, and the K League itself, have not commented on the awkward scenes at FC Seoul's ground.
The incident will come as a setback for the K League, which has been enjoying a profile like never before as one of the only top-flight football leagues active during the pandemic.
Broadcasters from 10 countries, mostly in Asia and Europe, have bought rights for the season.
South Korea has been one of the most successful countries at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, recording only slightly more than 11,000 cases and 263 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Europe's first top football league to return was the German Bundesliga, which resumed its 2019-2020 season without supporters in the stadiums over the weekend.
The Premier League is hoping to make its long-awaited comeback - also in empty grounds - in June, with clubs set to return to training in small groups from Tuesday.