Juve called 'shameless' and 'liars' by K League
The war of words between South Korean football and Juventus escalated on Thursday as the K-League issued a statement that demanded an apology from the club for lying and disrespecting Korean fans.
Juventus upset over 60,000 supporters last Friday by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for a 90-minute exhibition with a K-League All Stars team in what was, organisers say, a breach of contract.
K-League president Oh Kwon-Gap subsequently wrote a letter to Juventus asking for an apology and an explanation, but the reply from Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli that was issued on Wednesday did not go down well in Seoul.
"Every single player present in Korea... played the match, except one: Cristiano Ronaldo, who was obliged, according to our medical staff's advice, to rest due to muscle fatigue after the Nanjing game [against Inter Milan] which was only 48 hours before the one in Seoul," Agnelli wrote.
"Therefore, Mr President, I definitely reject your accusation of irresponsible behaviour, of arrogance, of disregard for fans, who we always honour."
The K-League, which said it felt cheated and disappointed by the "shamelessness" shown by Juventus, hit back.
"For fans in South Korea, Ronaldo's appearance isn't just about contract, but a trust in Juventus with 121 years of its rich history," the statement said.
"The fans expected Juventus to offer an explanation and a sincere apology for the reasons of discrediting the trust so easily, but the Juventus club even gave up its last hope. Juventus's reply was irresponsible and insincere that merely acted as excuses ..."
With Ronaldo expected to play at least 45 minutes, fans grew increasingly restless as it became apparent that the substitute was not going to come off the bench.
"If Ronaldo was unable to play," the K-League said, "it would be a blatant deception to include Ronaldo as a substitute on the start list... Other assertions from Juventus are also filled with untruth and deception."
These assertions from Agnelli are that the delayed kick-off was down to Juventus taking almost two hours to exit the airport upon arrival in Korea and severe traffic conditions on the way to the stadium. The K-League refuted the chairman.
"Juventus's claim that it took roughly 1 hour 50 minutes to exit the airport proved to be a lie."
The Korea Immigration Service has, according to the statement, verified that it took all 76 members of the travelling party just 26 minutes to go through immigration.
The K-League said that the Italians had been told to be at the stadium at 6.30 p.m., 90 minutes ahead of kick-off but the team bus left the hotel in downtown Seoul only at 6.15 p.m. "Given that Juventus were informed it takes 40 minutes from the hotel to the stadium, ...the club left the hotel 'late.'"
Korean football sources have told ESPN FC that if there is no apology from Juventus then officials will work with fellow Asian federations to prevent the club, as much as possible, being invited to the world's biggest continent in the future.
"K League clearly register our profound indignation and disappointment to Juventus's irresponsible behaviour and manners, and we strongly urge Juventus to offer a sincere apology and explain the reason for Ronaldo's no-show."