Football: South Korea to pursue soccer diplomacy with North

Football: South Korea to pursue soccer diplomacy with North
Fans of North Korea cheer during the Women's East Asian Cup football match between North and South Korea at the Wuhan Sports Center Stadium in Wuhan on August 8, 2015. North Korea defeated South Korea 2-0.
PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - South Korea's soccer chief Chung Mong-gyu will discuss reviving cross-border internationals with his North Korea counterparts on a visit to Pyongyang later this month, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said on Monday.

Relations between the states, who have remained technically at war since the 1950s, reached crisis point at the end of last month before a deal was struck to end a tense military standoff.

While teams of both genders have met when drawn against each other at various tournaments and in qualifying campaigns, the last friendly soccer internationals took place in 2005 to commemorate the anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan.

KFA president Chung will visit the North Korean capital from Sept. 18-20 for a meeting of the executive committee of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) and will take the opportunity to press for more meetings between the neighbours. "We expect this trip will go a long way toward revitalizing inter-Korean football exchanges," a KFA official told the Yonhap News Agency.

The two states last played in the North in Pyongyang in 1990, when the North Korean men's team secured their only victory in 15 attempts against their southern rivals.

The women's national teams have never played in the North with China and South Korea hosting most of their meetings. North Korea have lost just once against the South.

The KFA official said the focus of Chung's mission would initially be on women's soccer. "Given North Korea's prowess in women's football, it will help our women's team to play them," he said. "There will also be discussions on holding matches between our women's youth teams." The KFA also said on Monday that the South Korea men's team would host a friendly with Gold Cup runners up Jamaica in Seoul on Oct 13, Yonhap said.

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