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.


Roger Federer outclasses Novak Djokovic to reach ATP Finals semis

Updated 15 November 2019

Roger Federer outclasses Novak Djokovic to reach ATP Finals semis

  • Defeat spells the end of Djokovic’s bid to overtake Rafael Nadal as No. 1
  • Federer, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, reached his 16th semifinal

LONDOM: Roger Federer produced a serving masterclass as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
The Swiss, playing near-flawless tennis, broke once in the first set and twice in the second to beat his rival for the first time since 2015.
Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, the six-time champion dropped just seven points on his serve in the first set.
Defeat spells the end of Djokovic’s bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.
The third-seeded Federer, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, reached his 16th semifinal.
Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.
“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.
“I played incredible and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical. You guys made it super special, I can’t thank you enough.”
Speaking about what was different from Wimbledon, he said: “I won match point I guess. It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”
Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Dominic Thiem, who beat both Federer and Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.
Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.
As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.
Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.
He broke Djokovic again in the fifth game to take an iron grip on the match and repeated the trick to take the second set 6-3.
It was the 49th time Federer and Djokovic had met.
Djokovic, who now holds a 26-23 advantage, had won their past five meetings, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July, during which he saved two championship points.
In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
In doing so, the 23-year-old became the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.
Berrettini arrived in London at a career-high number eight in the ATP rankings after starting the season outside of the top 50.
Fifth seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semifinals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.