- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - North Korea has accused rival South Korea of making its players ill with “adulterated foodstuff” before last week’s World Cup qualifier.

The North Koreans want FIFA to investigate the claim.

The North’s football association also claimed in a statement late Sunday that the alleged food-poisoning is part of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s “moves for confrontation” with the North.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun raised the allegation after losing 1-0 to South Korea on April 1.

“It was beyond all doubt that the incident was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff, as they could not get up all of a sudden just before the match,” a statement from the North said, expanding on complaints Kim made in the wake of the loss.

Kim had asked for the match to be delayed and moved to a neutral site, claiming three of his players had food poisoning. FIFA rejected the request. The South’s football federation said a professional sports doctor examined the North Korean players and found no serious problem. More detailed examinations, including blood tests, were refused.

The match was played amid frayed ties between the two Koreas since the conservative Lee took office last year with a pledge to get tough with the North.

It also came amid high tensions over Pyongyang’s long-range rocket launch plan. The North fired the rocket over Japan on Sunday, claiming it was a satellite launch. But South Korean and U.S. officials said no object entered orbit.

The North’s football association also renewed a complaint about the decision of the referee not to award a goal early in the second half of Wednesday’s game, claiming star striker Jong Tae-se’s header crossed the goal line before it was saved. Television replays were inconclusive.

South Korea’s win put the 2002 World Cup semifinalists atop Group B in Asian qualifying with 11 points, one point ahead of North Korea in the five-team group.

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