AFC Cup final moved from North Korea to China due to sanctions – AFC

Next week’s AFC Cup final between North Korea’s 4.25 SC and Lebanon’s Al Ahed will be played in Shanghai instead of Pyongyang due to sanctions affecting the North, the Asian Football Confederation said on Tuesday. The AFC made the decision based on considerations over the televising and promotion of the game so that it is viewable throughout Asia and the Middle East, it said.

Last week, North and South Korea played a World Cup qualifier at the Kim Il Sung Stadium – their first football match in the North in 30 years – but no fans or media were allowed in the stands, and Pyongyang refused to broadcast the game live. The match ended in a goalless draw.

“The AFC, after careful consideration of the challenges affecting the commercial, broadcasting, media, accessibility and logistical arrangements, is compelled to assign the Final Match to be played in a neutral venue,” the continental governing body said in a statement.

“Due to the existing sanctions in place affecting DPR Korea, the AFC has been advised by its commercial rights partners of the challenges in enabling among other matters, the production and broadcast delivery of the Final match,” it said. It did not specify what existing sanctions it was referring to.

The Korea Football Association representing South Korea has asked the AFC to consider imposing sanctions on the North after last week’s World Cup qualifier, citing Pyongyang’s lack of cooperation over the event.

The AFC said the Chinese Football Association has confirmed their willingness to host the match on Nov. 2 and Shanghai was chosen as the venue for its easy access. Both clubs and their national associations have been informed of the governing body’s decision, it said.

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