Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Malaysia’s football chief on Thursday said he was worried about players being deliberately poisoned if their controversial Asian Cup qualifier goes ahead in North Korea’s Pyongyang.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim called for the game to be moved to a neutral venue, saying he was concerned over player safety.
The match, which was postponed during a furious diplomatic row over the murder of the North Korean leader’s half-brother in Malaysia, has been rescheduled to June 8.
“Truthfully, I would like the match to be played at a neutral venue for the sake of the players’ safety,” Tunku Ismail posted on the FAM’s Facebook page.
“I’m also very concerned about the safety assurance regarding the accommodation provided and the food. According to the information I have received we need to bring our own food due to the possibility of sabotage.”
The killing of Kim Jong-Nam — the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un — in February sparked a diplomatic row which saw both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving, and withdrawing their ambassadors.
South Korea accuses the North of masterminding the murder, which was carried out using a towel soaked with nerve agent at a Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysian police have named several North Korean suspects.
Despite the tensions, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced this week that the game would go ahead on June 8 after Malaysia confirmed it had eased travel restrictions.
The Malaysian football body has lodged an appeal against the decision which is being considered by the AFC.
“Another big concern is the issue of refereeing because if there are decisions going against the North Koreans, there is the possibility that the safety of match officials will be affected and that will surely put them under pressure,” Tunku Ismail added in his statement.
Malaysia face forfeiting the game 3-0 if they refuse to play what is their first fixture in the 2019 Asian Cup’s final round of qualifying.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Where to find Fluminense vs. Flamengo on US TV
- Where to find Huddersfield vs. Nottingham Forest on US TV
- Football fans allowed for China’s Covid-delayed kick-off
- Liverpool fans confident Reds will bounce back after Champions League setback
- Salah’s Egyptian fans share in his Champions League misery
- UEFA blames ‘fake tickets’ for Champions League final delay
- Courtois earns respect with heroics to thwart Liverpool in Champions League final
- Liverpool will ‘come again’ after anticlimactic end to stellar season
- ‘I can’t do much more’ to win Ballon d’Or – Benzema
- Families of Liverpool staff caught up in Champions League final chaos – Klopp