SEOUL: FIFA has asked South Korean and Japanese players to refrain from political gestures over disputed islands at an Under-20 Women’s World Cup match Thursday, an official said.
The request follows an incident at the London Olympics, when South Korean midfielder Park Jong-Woo held up a sign declaring: “Dokdo is our territory” after his side defeated Japan.
The quarter-final, set to kick off in Tokyo at 1030 GMT, comes amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two neighbours over the rocky outcrops in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
FIFA, football’s world governing body, made the request in a meeting with officials from the two teams on the eve of the match, said Korea Football Association (KFA) spokesman Lee Won-Jae.
“FIFA told both teams to avoid any politically-charged jubilation or slogans that could incite the crowd,” Lee said.
According to the KFA, FIFA will also try to ensure fans do not display political banners at the stadium.
Park was barred from the medals ceremony at the Olympics earlier this month after his gesture, and has yet to collect his bronze as an International Olympic Committee investigation is still underway.
South Korea on Thursday rejected a Japanese proposal to ask an international court to settle the row over the islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
Relations have sharply worsened since South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak paid a surprise visit to the Seoul-controlled islands on August 10, sparking angry protests from Japan. – AFP
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