North Korea Denies Claims of Mistreating World Cup Soccer Coach, Players

North Korea soccer officials have written to the sport’s governing body denying reports that the national squad was sanctioned for its performances at the World Cup, FIFA said today.

FIFA closed its investigation into the matter, “having checked all its sources.”

North Korea lost all three group-stage games in South Africa, including a 7-0 defeat by Portugal. It was its first appearance at the World Cup since 1966.

Media organizations had said state officials reportedly humiliated the team in public on their return from the tournament and sentenced coach Kim Jong Hun to hard labor.

On July 27, Radio Free Asia, citing unidentified people, reported that team members were placed on a stage in front of more than 400 people, including Workers’ Party officials, in Pyongyang and reprimanded for “betraying the trust” of Kim Jong Un, son of leader Kim Jong Il.

In a letter, the North Korean soccer association wrote that “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 published on its website. “The association also indicates that there were no sanctions to the coach and that the reports on this matter were baseless.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in the London newsroom on tpanja@bloomberg.net

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