North Korea's World Cup Qualifier Moved to Neutral Venue

North Korea's World Cup Qualifier Moved to Neutral Venue

North Korea's home World Cup qualifier against Japan on Tuesday will be held at a neutral venue, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced. The decision comes just four days before the scheduled match, leaving little time to find an alternative location.

The AFC confirmed that the game will still take place as planned on Tuesday, but did not disclose the reason for the change in venue. However, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that North Korea expressed concerns over bacterial infections in Japan.

North Korean officials had initially requested that the match be held in Japan, but the Japanese Football Association (JFA) declined due to the short notice. The JFA also cited security concerns, as Japan's foreign ministry had warned football fans against traveling to North Korea.

The match in Pyongyang would have been the first game in North Korea for Japan's men's team since 2011. It would have also been a rare international football match in North Korea, which has been isolated from the international community due to its nuclear and missile programs.

Despite its isolation, North Korea has qualified for the World Cup twice before. In 1966, they famously beat Italy 1-0 and made it to the quarter-finals. They also qualified in 2010, but were knocked out at the group stage after three defeats.

The change in venue for the World Cup qualifier is the latest setback in relations between Japan and North Korea. The two countries have long been at odds over issues such as Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula during World War II and North Korea's missile tests.

Tags: #NorthKorea, #Japan, #WorldCup, #AFC, #NeutralVenue

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