Political Football

North Korean Football Fans

One of the favorite shibboleths about international sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup is that countries temporarily set aside politics and bygones to come together in the pure spirit of sport. This ideal never seems entirely to bear out. Admit it: geopolitical dynamics add to the drama of certain sporting events.

Today’s test case: is there anyone out there that doesn’t want to see Brazil put half-a-dozen goals past North Korea?


Schadenfreude Update

Brazil 2 – DPR Korea 1

Dear Leader will be so pleased. Dunga, less so. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope in football or geopolitics.


3 Responses to “Political Football”

  1. 1 mbjesq 15 June 2010 at 8:00 am

    Marina Hyde has a fun piece in the Guardian about the North Korean press conference in advance of their opening World Cup match. Bizarre.

  2. 2 mbjesq 16 June 2010 at 8:15 am

    The second funniest aspect of North Korea’s trip to the World Cup was their misguided attempt to include an extra outfield player by naming one of their strikers as one of their three goalkeepers. They were caught-short when FIFA officials reminded them that the listed goalkeepers could only play in goal. Never overly careful with the truth, North Korean coach, Kim Jong-Hun, explained, “He was a striker and now he’s registered as a goalkeeper. He is really a goalkeeper but he’s really fast, so we switched him to a striker. But this World Cup, he said he wanted to be a goalkeeper again.” Freedom of choice is the rule in North Korea, even to the extend that the players get to select their own positions.

    But the funniest ploy involves the 30 North Korea fans cheering the team at the stadium. Since North Koreans aren’t allowed to travel abroad, the government hired 30 Chinese actors to play the part of North Korean fans.

    What will Dear Leader think of next?

  3. 3 mbjesq 31 July 2010 at 7:33 pm

    The Guardian has compiled a report about the six-hour public reprimand received by the North Korean footballers for their “ideological failings” with their three-loss performance at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. In the course of the marathon censure, held in a packed auditorium at the Working People’s Cultural Palace in Pyongyang, each of the players were given an opportunity to publicly denounce the coach, Kim Jung-Hun, for “betrayal of Kim Jong-Un”, Kim Jong-Il’s son and heir to the communist dynasty. Stalinism lives!

    And you thought Les Blues had troubles.

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