South Korea seeks punishment for North Korea over World Cup qualifier

Above, empty stands at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang during the World Cup 2022 qualifying match between the Korean neighbors on October 15, 2019. (KFA/AFP)
Updated 18 October 2019

South Korea seeks punishment for North Korea over World Cup qualifier

  • The game, which was cast into media darkness because the North refused a live broadcast from Kim Il Sung Stadium, ended in a 0-0 draw
  • South Korean players said their North Korean opponents were unnecessarily physical and verbally abusive during the match

SEOUL, South Korea: The South Korean football association said Friday it has requested that North Korea be punished for blocking rival fans and media from attending a World Cup qualifier between the countries at an empty stadium in Pyongyang.
The Seoul-based KFA’s letter to the Asian Football Confederation argues that the North failed to uphold rules requiring host nations to grant visas and entries for traveling supporters and media without discrimination, KFA official Shin Jung-hoon said.
The KFA did not share the actual letter with journalists.
The game, which was cast into media darkness because the North refused a live broadcast from Kim Il Sung Stadium, ended in a 0-0 draw. South Korean players later said the North Korean players were unnecessarily physical and verbally abusive during the match.
North Korea in recent months has suspended virtually all cooperation with the South amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States, and ignored the South’s calls for discussions on media coverage and allowing South Korean fans to attend ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“(The letter) expressed regret over North Korea’s failure to separate sports and politics and said its actions over the match should be reviewed for discipline,” Shin said. “We also called for AFC efforts to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, Seoul’s point man on North Korea, told lawmakers on Thursday that the way the North handled the game was “very disappointing” and reflected the standstill in inter-Korean relations.
During qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, North Korea chose to host games against South Korea in Shanghai, refusing to hoist the South Korean flag and play the South Korean anthem on its soil.
The fate of the game in Pyongyang was uncertain until last month when the AFC informed the KFA that the North decided it would host its Group H match against the South as scheduled.
Group H also includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.