Koreas play World Cup qualifier in empty 50,000 capacity Pyongyang stadium | News | DW | 15.10.2019
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Koreas play World Cup qualifier in empty 50,000 capacity Pyongyang stadium

The two Korea's played their first competitive football match in Pyongyang under a near total blackout. The 50,000-capacity Kim Il Sung Stadium was empty.

A soccer World Cup qualifying match between North and South Korea in Pyongyang on Tuesday was played with no live broadcast and in an empty Kim Il Sung Stadium.

North Korea prevented South Korean media and spectators from attending the match and refused a live broadcast, leaving everyone in the dark about the game.

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The Seoul-based Korean Football Association said it believed there were also no North Korean spectators at the 50,000-capacity stadium.

"Photos sent by our employees show not a single person in the stands," KFA official Park Jae-sung said on Tuesday. "We are not sure why the North is doing this."

The KFA sent two staff members to observe the game between the two countries, which are still technically at war.

The only way to follow the match was on the FIFA and Asian Football Confederation websites, which provided a short commentary. The game was 0-0 at halftime.

The South Korean team, accompanied only by their coaches and support staff, arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, but have been difficult to reach. They were forced to leave their mobile phones at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said the North had promised to provide a DVD of the match before the team left, meaning fans will be able to watch the game later.

Among the few spectators was FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who flew in to Pyongyang earlier in the day.

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The game is the first competitive meeting between the national men's teams in the North Korean capital, although the North hosted the South in a friendly in 1990.

The two teams faced off four times during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The games were scheduled to be played in Seoul and Pyongyang, but were later moved to China after North Korea objected to flying the South Korean flag or playing its rival's national anthem on its soil.

The match comes as inter-Korean dialogue has been dealt a setback following the breakdown of nuclear talks with the United States and repeated North Korean missile tests.

cw/ng (AFP, AP)

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