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S. Korea sounds N. Korea out about sending cheering squad for World Cup qualifier

All News 14:06 September 26, 2019

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is sounding North Korea out through various channels about its intention to send a cheering squad to Pyongyang for next month's World Cup qualifier between the two countries, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

The move came days after South Korea's football governing body said that it was informed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that the North reaffirmed its will to host South Korea on Oct. 15, as scheduled, for their Group H match in the second round of Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"We are sounding North Korea out through various channels about our intention to send a cheering squad," the ministry official told reporters.

It is rare for North Korea to host South Korea for high-profile sports events. It is also unprecedented for South Korea to send a cheering squad to such a game in Pyongyang.

As for media reports that 18 South Korean journalists will be sent to the North Korean capital to cover the match, the official said that they are not true, adding that no particular figure has been proposed or decided.

The official noted that relevant government agencies and the Korea Football Association are currently discussing details regarding the upcoming match, including travel plans for the South Korean players and the issue of sending a cheering squad.

Some have raised the possibility that the South Korean players will likely fly to Pyongyang via Beijing rather than using a direct flight or traveling by vehicle across the inter-Korean border.

North Korea has not provided any response to Seoul's inquires about next month's match.

The upcoming match in Pyongyang is a major chance to bolster contact between the two Koreas at a time when cross-border exchanges have been mostly stalled in recent months amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.

Kim Kum-chol (2nd from R) dribbles the ball during a Group H Asian qualifier against Lebanon for the 2022 football World Cup at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on Sept. 5, 2019, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea won 2-0. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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