August 25, 2010 / 9:59 AM / in 7 years

FIFA dismiss North Korea witchhunt claims

ZURICH (Reuters) - 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.

<p>North Korea's Jong Tae-se heads the ball as Portugal's Ricardo Carvalho attempts to block him during a 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Oleg Popov</p>

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

Soccer’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.

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