South Korea wants action against North Korea over closed-door game: report

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s national soccer federation has asked the sport’s continental body to consider action against North Korea for staging their 2022 World Cup qualifier behind closed doors, according to a local media report on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – 2022 World Cup Qualifier Round 3 – Group H – South Korea v North Korea – Kim Il Sung Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea – October 15, 2019 South Korea’s Hwang Hee-chan in action. Yonhap via REUTERS

Tuesday’s game in Pyongyang, the first between the two teams on North Korean soil in 30 years, ended in a 0-0 draw in front of empty stands. It was not broadcast after the North refused to screen it live.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) wrote a letter of complaint to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that fans and media were not allowed to attend the match, the Yonhap news agency reported.

“We asked North Korea on multiple occasions for help in allowing our media and supporters to travel to Pyongyang, but North Korea refused to cooperate,” the KFA said.

“We believe the AFC should review whether it should discipline North Korea’s football association for its lack of cooperation in these and other matters.”

An AFC spokesman said global body FIFA was the governing entity for World Cup qualifiers.

Last year saw a flurry of sports diplomacy between the neighbors but ties have since cooled over stalled negotiations over the North’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

They are technically still at war as their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-min said it had been a bad-tempered match.

“The game was so tough that I think we were very lucky already to be back with no one injured,” he told reporters on Thursday upon arrival at Incheon.

“We could even hear many very offensive curses from the other side.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by John Stonestreet

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