FIFA dismiss North Korea witchhunt claims

ZURICH - FIFA has dismissed allegations that North Korea's coach and players were punished for losing all three of their games at this year's World Cup.

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

Football's governing body FIFA insisted 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 Ivory Coast at the World Cup.

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, their first appearance since 1966.


FIFA added that an election for the president of the North Korea FA was also considered to be within its rules.

"The (North Korean) FA clarified that the election of the president of the association held on 19 June was held in accordance with the statutes of the association and were not affected by any result of the team at the World Cup," said FIFA.

"At the time of the election the team had only played one match against Brazil and had shown a good level of play."

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.

"The match thus turned into a theatre of plot-breeding and swindling," the North said in a statement.

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