Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, but these days spectators aren’t allowed to attend matches because of the Coronavirus.

Most matches are covered by TV and the general media, however empty stands don’t look good on the screen or in newspapers and magazines.

So, to maintain a bit of the old pre-pandemic festivity in stadiums, many clubs have chosen to put fake people in the stands.

They look fine from a distance and of course are not subject to social distancing rules.

Most are cardboard cutouts depicting hometown supporters holding signs or smiling, but last weekend a major soccer team in South Korea opted to fill seats with something a little more lifelike — to its deep embarrassment.

FC Seoul has since apologised after what it believed were ordinary mannequins were placed in the stands for a match against Gwangju FC.

They were quickly recognised by many fans as sex dolls.

Most of the ‘mannequins’ were clearly female figures, and many had telltale signs, like the business logos for sex toy marketers on their clothing, or striking physiques.

Of the roughly two dozen dolls in the stands, only a handful were blokes.

“We tried to add some fun in the no-spectator match,” FC Seoul said in a statement.

“But we did not check all the details and that is clearly our fault.”

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The incident is a blemish for the K League, the top professional soccer league in South Korea. 

After weeks of delay because of the Coronavirus restrictions, the first game took to the field, and attracted not only local media — but also dozens of foreign broadcasters.

The outcome of the match is not known, but FC Seoul’s Instagram page was filled with messages from fans outraged that the club had failed to notice the mannequins were so obviously sex dolls. 

Some derided the team’s management as clueless and lamented the global humiliation that had been brought on it.

The team said it had received assurances when the dolls were procured that they were just ordinary folk.

“We had confirmed that although the mannequins were made to look just like real people, they had nothing to do with adult products,” it said.

But the club admitted that it did not do a background check on the supplier, which, incidentally, makes sex dolls. 

It also said it had failed to notice that the logos on the clothing were connected to the sex industry.

Ah well, many a rabid fan’s eye stays on the ball, rather than the spectator.

But the chances of a repeat sex doll crowd at any future games in Korea, at least — are not great.


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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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