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.


Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

Updated 12 August 2020

Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

  • Inter reach their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League

MILAN: A record-breaking Romelu Lukaku is leading Inter Milan's chase for their first trophy in 9 years.

Eyebrows were raised last year when Inter shelled out a club record of around €65 million ($73 million) plus €13 million  ($15 million) in bonuses for Lukaku, who had had a disappointing final season at Manchester United.

However, Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.

Inter scored 81 league goals — well above the paltry 57 they managed in the previous campaign.

Lukaku scored again on Monday and set up another to help Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to reach the Europa League semifinals.

“Romelu has never played so well, not even in the past,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

The Belgian forward became the first player to find the net in nine consecutive Europa League games, surpassing the eight set by Alan Shearer for Newcastle in 2005.

Lukaku’s 31st goal of the season took him past the 30-mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was little,” Lukaku said. “I’ve always said that I will give my all for this team.

“We’re a great team; my teammates help me a lot, otherwise I couldn’t do these things and achieve these numbers ... my teammates look for me. We’re doing well together, all of us.”

Inter reached their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League as well as Serie A and the Italian Cup to complete a historic treble.

They retained the Italian Cup the following year but have not managed to lift silverware since.

The Nerazzurri play Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in the semifinals on Monday.

After an intense period of playing matches approximately every three days after soccer restarted following the pandemic-enforced shutdown, Conte has almost a week to prepare his players.

He will want to make sure they understand that profligacy can prove costly at this level.

Inter have often failed to kill off games in which they have  dominated, and that was again the case on Monday when they had opportunities to extend their advantage.

That allowed Leverkusen to stay in the quarterfinal despite having only two shots on target.

“We could have gone through in a more relaxed manner because, despite the fact that we never really had to dig in, the result was close,” Conte said.

“It’s difficult to be annoyed. I can only compliment the lads on their performance. As is the case after every game, we’ll analyze every situation and see where we can improve.”