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A neutral site will host North Korea vs. Japan in a World Cup qualifying match.

However, North Korea refused to host the game due to concerns about bacterial diseases in Japan, according to a report published by Japan's Kyodo news agency on Thursday.

A neutral site will host North Korea vs. Japan in a World Cup qualifying match.

A neutral venue, rather than Pyeongchang, will host North Korea's home World Cup qualifier against Japan on Tuesday, the Asian Football Confederation said four days before kick-off.  AFC general secretary Windsor John told AFP on Friday that "normally it is the responsibility of the host team to nominate a neutral venue, otherwise the AFC will have to nominate." John has reconfirmed that the game will still take place on Tuesday as scheduled, leaving little time to secure a location.

 

The women's Olympic qualifier between North Korea and Japan was moved from Pyeongchang to a neutral venue in Saudi Arabia last month. John did not explain why Tuesday's game in the North Korean capital would not go ahead as planned.

 

However, North Korea refused to host the game due to concerns about bacterial diseases in Japan, according to a report published by Japan's Kyodo news agency on Thursday.

On Thursday, North Korean officials informed their Japanese counterparts that they could not host, but did not provide an explanation. Kozo Tashima, head of the Japan Football Association, said: "We were asked at half-time if we could organize in Japan," following the teams' 1-0 win in Tokyo in the first round.

 

According to Tashima, "I told them it was so sudden and I couldn't give them an immediate yes," according to reports in Japan. We will need at least two or three days, I informed them. I told them it was hard,” he noted. The match in Pyeongchang would be a rare international football match in North Korea and the first match for the Japanese men's team in North Korea since 2011. Japan's foreign ministry issued a warning to soccer fans earlier this week not to attempt to visit the nation for the match.

According to broadcaster NHK, fourteen government officials and a limited number of media were to accompany the Japanese team during the game. Long-standing issues in the relationship include payments for Japan's brutal rule over the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, as well as Pyongyang's recent missile launches over Japanese territory. Another long-standing problem was the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s, which was done to educate the spies in Japanese language and culture.

 

Despite its poverty and isolation, North Korea made it to the 2010 World Cup. However, they lost all three of their matches, including a 7–0 thrashing by Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, and were eliminated in the group stage. They also advanced to the quarter-finals in 1966 with their historic 1-0 victory over Italy.

 

 


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