Concerned about an upsurge in anti-Korean sentiment in China over a US missile shield, South Korea asked Asia's football governing body to protect its national football team during a World Cup qualifying match.
The Korea Football Association said its letter has been sent to the Asian Football Federation and the Chinese Football Association about the World Cup qualifier on March 23 in the Helong stadium in Changsha, China.
The letter called for security measures to protect South Korean players and about 200 Korean fans who will travel to China. In 2004, a South Korean was injured after being hit by a water bottle during an Olympic football qualifying match at the stadium.
On Monday, South Korea coach Uli Stielike expressed concern about a tense atmosphere in the stadium. "I will try to make sure our players won't be influenced by the stadium atmosphere or other out-of-pitch environments."
After five matches, South Korea stand second behind Iran. Only the top two nations from the group will earn automatic World Cup berths in Russia, while the third place team will go through playoffs
The row over the installation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea has strained relations between Asia's two major economies.
By using unofficial channels, Beijing has taken a series of retaliatory steps, arguing the system would "seriously" hurt strategic interests of China and other countries as well as the security balance in Northeast Asia.
Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org