North Korean broadcasters have decided to boycott World Cup matches that involve their political enemies, according to stunning reports.
Led by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, the secretive state has a fractured relationship with neighbouring country South Korea and has recently upped their efforts in ballistic testing around the peninsula.
Only last week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was open to North Korea hosting a World Cup in the future.
“FIFA is a global football organisation. We are football people, not politicians, and we want to bring people together,” he said.
“Any country can host an event. If North Korea wants to host something [...].”
The 52-year-old FIFA chief added: “I actually went to North Korea some years ago to ask the North Koreans if they were ready to host part of a Women’s World Cup with South Korea.
“Well, I was not successful, obviously, but I would go another 100 times if it would help. Only engagement can bring real change. We’re a global organisation and want to remain an organisation that unites the world.”
According to KBS World TV, North Korean networks will not show any matches that involve South Korea, Japan and the United States during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA are already facing a huge wave of criticism over their decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, especially due to the country's poor human rights records.
However, Infantino was adamant that they have made the right choice by making Qatar the first nation in the Middle East to host FIFA’s prestigious tournament.
“I’m still convinced that this World Cup will open the eyes of many people from the western world to the Arab world,” he said.
North Korea are currently ranked 112th in the world and have only appeared at the World Cup twice. They made their debut in the 1966 tournament held in England, and their second outing came in South Africa back in 2010.
South Korea, meanwhile, hosted the 2002 tournament alongside Japan. In this year’s World Cup, both South Korea and Japan have made positive starts to their respective campaigns.
Japan stunned Germany with a 2-1 victory in the World Cup on Wednesday, while South Korea held Uruguay to a 0-0 draw on Thursday.
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