It is unusual for the North Korean media to report something negative about the North.
But the Korean Central News Agency reported on September 11 that the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports’ Committee for Examining Discipline in Sports Matches at the has decided to punish a soccer team, the Sonbong Team, recent winners of the Torch Cup, for committing an unfair practice.
The Sonbong Team prevailed at the Torch Cup, an event taking place at Kim Il Sung Stadium on August 28. However, it has since been revealed that the team included a “wrong player” in its roster, causing the referee to inaccurately assess the ability of the team.
It did not elaborate as to what “wrong player” means.
Therefore, the committee decided to strip the Sonbong Team of their prize and award the top spot to the April 25 Team. In addition, the committee disqualified the Sonbong Team for its participation in all international and domestic games to be organized by the Football Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for six months, according to the agency’s report.
The committee appears determined to crack down on the practice. It announced that it will punish those teams let ineligible players compete in matches by disqualifying the teams – as well as the ineligible players – from taking part in future matches.
The degree of punishment will be decided depending on the violation of discipline and gravity of unfair practice.
“The news report from North Korea is unprecedented,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies.
“With the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Junior and Senior Weightlifting Championships ahead, the North might have wanted show an international community that North Korea is willing to follow international sporting rules. I think the main purpose of the news report is to show people worldwide that North Korean society is changing since Kim Jong Un took power.”
Kim Jong Un was at the match in late August, watching the championship match between the Sonbong Team and the April 25 Team. The Sonbong Team won after a penalty kick in overtime. After the game, players from the Sonbong Team took a commemorative picture with Kim.
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