December 06, 2021

North Korea – Champions of the World

Part 1 of 2

On November 15th 2011, North Korea overcame Japan 1-0 in Pyongyang in a World Cup 2014 qualifier. To the average football fan, it was a meaningless game in faraway Asia, if it registered on their radar at all. For those who follow the unofficial football world championships, however, this was a day where footballing history was made; North Korea became the champions of world football.[1] In a system whereby defeating the ‘champions’ earns the title, they are now the lowest ranked team to have ever won the accolade, 124th in the FIFA rankings at the time of kick-off. Despite this achievement, there will be no parades or medals awarded in Pyongyang, and FIFA will not be flying in Sepp Blatter to lay a trophy at the statue of Kim Il-Sung in order to commemorate the occasion, but for those of us who combine an interest in both football and North Korea, the title victory will live long in the memory. While North Korea has some way to go to rival the greatest of unofficial champions, Scotland (who have held the title for a total of over 10,000 days and 86 successful title defenses), the week ahead will provide North Korea with a chance to defend their title at the AFC 2012 Challenge Cup.