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Futbology: A groundhopper's best friend

On the morning of January 13, the K League dropped the 2023 fixtures, and jaws dropped from Seoul to Seogwipo. The opening weekend is loaded with the sort of heavyweight clashes and intriguing match-ups you normally associate with a public holiday or, at the very least, when teams have started to find their rhythm. The K League is back, and so is groundhopping!

The season opens with the blockbuster clash between Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at Munsu Football Stadium. The kick-off time - 2pm on Saturday, February 26th - is absolutely ideal for home and away fans. The K League isn't messing about! For reference, last season, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors began with a narrow home win over Suwon FC, whilst Ulsan and Gimcheon played out a dull goalless draw in Munsu. Did anyone really want to be there? Well, they will this time.

And that is not all. Immediately following the final whistle in Ulsan, FC Seoul welcome rivals Incheon United to the capital and newly promoted Gwangju FC head north to play a Suwon Bluewings outfit that almost went in the opposite direction. On Sunday, Daegu FC make the short trip east to Pohang, Suwon FC are the first visitors to Jeju Island and Daejeon Hana celebrate a return to the top-flight with a home game against Gangwon FC.

As opening weekends go, this will be a beauty. The opening weekend choice for the neutral is, probably, the meeting between the two teams (Ulsan and Jeonbuk) who have occupied first and second in every season since 2019. But there's great value and intrigue across the league. 

Less than a fortnight to go until the floodlights appear over horizon, the food trucks dust down their cooking materials, staff open the turnstiles to giddy supporters and the drums start beating. Time to remember Ticketlink and Interpark passwords, renew the subscription for Futbology (more on that later) and book those train and bus tickets around the country.

Fans enjoying a midweek K League 2 clash between Gyeongnam FC and Ansan Greeners, July 2022. The Changwon Football Centre is one of the most impressive football-specific stadiums in Korea. (Image: Instagram.com/groundhopping_korea) 
For the groundhopper without a team to support, fixture day is the most exciting of the year. Put the kettle on, studiously study the schedule, find double (or even triple) header opportunities with K League 2 and start planning your season. This season should be the first since 2019 without covid-19 related restrictions. Excitement is growing.

This year, there are 25 clubs in the top two divisions of professional football in Korea. Suwon is the only city in K League 1 with a local derby and only Seoul has a team in K League 1 and 2. Cheonan City FC and Chungbuk Cheongju FC are new editions to the second tier. There are no stadium shares and Gangwon FC, in K League 1, have two grounds they call home. That is a lot of cities and stadiums to explore. Just as well there is the perfect app to make it more convenient.

Last October, K League United announced a partnership with Futbology. A statement on this site read "Futbology is the handiest tool for football fans and is a must have for hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. As well as keeping track of matches and stadiums, Futbology allows users to connect with others."


The statement added that the "Futbology app covers more than 80,000 grounds and 1,200 leagues worldwide, including K League 1 and 2, K3 and K4, and the WK League." Futbology, for readers unfamiliar with the app, is not only very user friendly, but also exceptionally informative. The app is free but costs approximately $10 per year for the Premium service. Countries are divided into their confederations with national leagues further categorized from the highest level right down to the amateur tiers. 

Daejeon World Cup Stadium hosted Korea Republic's famous victory over Italy at the 2002 World Cup. Home stadium of Daejeon Hana Citizen, this fantastic arena has been added to the K League 1 groundhopping options after Daejeon's promotion from K League 2. (Image: Instagram.com/groundhopping_korea)
There's a neat function on the app which allows users to select games they're going to attend in the future, like responding to the old Facebook invite requests. The service appears to join in on the general excitement and good mood, as a message pops up screaming "I'M GOING" once the user has made their selection. That's right! I'm going to Cheonan City FC v Seoul E-land. There are maps and directions to stadiums, photographs and a list of all the users who have seen the teams and stadiums.

On match day, once you get around 500 meters from the stadium, Futbology check-in opens. Checking-in allows friends and followers to see what game you're at. If you add a photo, then every single user, all over the world, will see that picture above your name if they browse the daily photograph part of the app. Maybe it is just me, but on a long trip home from a game in Korea, I like seeing my photographs alongside ones of Anfield, Signal Iduna Park, Le Bombonera or Audi Field.

DGB Daegu Bank Park is one of the newest football stadiums in the country, having opened in 2019. Here, Daegu FC host FC Seoul on the opening day of the 2022 season. (Image: Instagram.com/groundhopping_korea)
However, the highlight of the app are the badges that can be earned by visiting new stadiums or countries, or the frequency you see a team. There are hundreds of badges available but the Holy Grail must be the 'completed leagues' badge which you obtain after seeing every stadium in a league. You don't even have to go to every stadium in one season.

The new stadium buzz is thrilling, whether you're in Madrid to see the European champions, or Seongnam to watch the Magpies. You don't have to support a club to make the most out of the K League experience. Keep updated with K League United, download the Futbology app, visit the 25 clubs and share photos for everyone to see. 

FNR

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