Blatter announces FIFA inquiry into North Korea player mistreatment allegations

By By Alex Kennedy, AP
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FIFA probes alleged North Korea player punishment

SINGAPORE — FIFA President Sepp Blatter said soccer’s world governing body has opened an inquiry into allegations that North Korea might have mistreated players and coaches after the team lost all three of its World Cup matches.

Blatter said Wednesday that FIFA sent a letter to the North Korean football federation on Tuesday seeking information about the allegations of mistreatment and the recent election of a new federation president.

“It’s a kind of investigation to tell us about the election of a new president, and if it is true, the allegations made by the media that the coach and some players have been condemned or punished,” Blatter said.

“The first step is the federation and we’ll see what the answer will be, and then we can elaborate on that.”

Radio Free Asia reported last month that North Korean officials summoned the national team to a closed-door meeting in the capital Pyongyang to criticize it for its losses to Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast at the World Cup in South Africa. The report said players were then ordered to reprimand coach Kim Jong Hun.

The report cited unidentified sources in North Korea and a Chinese businessman described as knowledgeable about North Korea affairs. South Korea’s main spy agency couldn’t confirm the report, and there was no mention of any such meeting in North Korean state media.

Asian Football Confederation chief Mohammad bin Hammam told reporters on Wednesday that he spoke with four players in North Korea last month and they didn’t report any mistreatment.

“There was an unconfirmed report that these players have gone through torture or something like that, but I can’t confirm that,” bin Hammam said. “I haven’t seen anything with my eyes or heard anything with my ears.

“Maybe this FIFA investigation can clear the air.”

In other news Wednesday, Blatter reiterated that the International Football Association Board plans to discuss the use of goal-line video technology at the IFAB’s next meeting in October in Cardiff, Wales.

At least four companies are preparing to present proposals, Blatter said.

“At this meeting, all these people can present their different items,” Blatter said. “If you have an accurate and simple system, we will implement it.”

Goal-line technology has become a top priority after officiating errors helped eliminate England and Mexico from the World Cup.

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