Fifa dismisses N Korea punishments

World governing body ends investigation into alleged mistreatment of World Cup team.

    North Korea scored their only goal of the World Cup against Brazil [GALLO/GETTY]

    Allegations that North Korea's coach and players were punished for losing all three of their matches at the World Cup have been dismissed by football’s world governing body Fifa.

    Asian media reported the side had been publicly shamed after returning from South Africa having conceded 12 goals in the first round.

    But Fifa insisted on Wednesday that it was business as usual for North Korea and that no such witchhunt had taken place.

    "The (North Korean) FA assures Fifa that Mr Kim Jong-hun, head coach of the national team, and all the other members of the national team are training as usual," Fifa said in a statement.

    "The association also indicates that there were no sanctions to the coach and that the reports on this matter were baseless.

    "With all of the information at hand, and having checked all of its sources, Fifa has decided to close the matter."

    North Korea lost 2-1 to Brazil, were humiliated 7-0 by Portugal and easily beaten 3-0 by Cote d’Ivoire at the World Cup.

    They were playing in their first finals since 1966, when they reached the quarter-finals having knocked out Italy.

    Media claims

    Radio Free Asia and South Korean media claimed Kim and his team were forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture in front of 400 government officials, students and journalists.

    Reports said the players were subjected to six hours of criticism for their performance at the World Cup.

    North Korea were also involved in controversy during the qualifiers, especially during four clashes with neighbours South Korea.

    After they refused to play the South's national anthem or raise its flag for a qualifiers in Pyongyang, Fifa had to move the matches to Shanghai to avoid a full-scale diplomatic row.

    North Korea protested to FIFA that their players' food had been tampered with and that the referee had been biased following a 1-0 defeat to South Korea in April 2009.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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