In 2004, journalist Franklin Foer released a book, How Soccer Explains the
, in which he “explained” the world in terms of soccer, and vice versa. His
analysis covered gangsterism in Serbia, sectarianism in Scotland, etc etc.
And the violent outbreak at the Women’s Asian Cup in
Adelaide has been a brilliant extension of Foer’s
thesis and showed why North Korea is regarded as a real source of risk to world

The country’s dangerously aggressive nuttiness is played out on the
football field in spades. For the third time this year a North Korean team was
involved in nasty, paranoid and rule-breaking behaviour at an Asian
Championship/World Cup qualifier. And, just like the real world, the
authorities (this time the Asian Football Federation) look like letting them get
away with it with minimal sanction.

The post match scenes after a controversial loss to China in the semi-final
were disgraceful and unprecedented in women’s football in this country. The two
attacks on the referee by a player, the verbal and physical bullying of
officials, the need for security guards to pull coaches from the field rather
than let them charge down the match officials and the throwing of objects into
the crowd. Police had to be called in to enable the Chinese to safely leave the
stadium and police were posted at the hotel where both teams were staying to
ensure no further outbursts.

Three players were suspended for the final match of the tournament but the
North Korean officials and cultural system which propagate this behaviour again
go unsanctioned.

The paranoid and aggressive North Korean mentality is beautifully
illustrated by their letter of complaint to the AFC about the match from the
North Korean football association secretary general Kim Jong-Su in a statement
which would be hysterically funny if it didn’t show part of a larger picture of
a “rogue state”:

Had the referee and the linesman not committed such unreasonable and
dastardly acts that made the sportspersons of the world blush, such things would
not have happened… All facts prove that the Italian referee and the Australian
linesman, prompted by a vicious aim to make the Korean team fail at any cost,
resorted to premeditated and deliberate partial refereeing, spoiling the noble
sports spirit and obstructing the development of Asian women’s football.

entirely consistent with the standard North Korean approach to nuclear
development, missile testing and why their economic system creates starvation –
“it’s not us, it’s your fault, you’re against us, we’re going to keep making
missile and bombs while we kick referees”.

The North Koreans wanted a re-match, punishments for the referee and
linesman and for the one-match bans against their players to be dropped.
Fact is they should be suspended from participating in FIFA/AFC
competitions for while – that is, stand in a corner and have a good think about
how to behave better.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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