TOKYO (Yonhap News) ― FIFA, the international football governing body, has asked South Korean and Japanese players at the U-20 Women’s World Cup to refrain from taking political action during their quarterfinal match later Thursday, officials said.
According to the Korea Football Association, FIFA officials held meetings with both teams and told players on each side not to incite the crowd with any politically-charged celebration or action.
The quarterfinal showdown at the Japanese capital, set for 7:30 p.m., comes amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the neighbors over Dokdo, rocky South Korean outcroppings in the East Sea to which Japan has frequently laid claims.
Earlier Thursday, South Korea sent a diplomatic document to Japan to dismiss Tokyo’s latest proposal to take the sovereignty issue of Dokdo to the International Court of Justice. South Korea has maintained that Dokdo is not a disputed territory legally, historically and geographically. Japan’s proposal to have the ICJ deal with the Dokdo issue requires South Korean consent.
At the London Olympics earlier this month, the South Korean men’s team defeated Japan 2-0 for the bronze medal, the country’s first Olympic medal in football. The match was played just hours after President Lee Myung-bak made an unprecedented trip to Dokdo.
In his post-game celebration, South Korean midfielder Park Jong-woo took a placard from a fan in the stands that read, in Korean, “Dokdo Is Our Territory.” He was subsequently barred from the medal ceremony, as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee deemed his action political. He remains under investigation by the two organizations and has yet to collect his bronze medal.
According to the KFA, Deborah Doe, security advisor for FIFA, said the international governing body will also try to ensure fans do not display political messages through banners or placards.
South Korea finished third at the previous U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010 in Germany. Japan has not yet posted a top-four finish since the tournament began in 2002.
South Korea has never beaten Japan at the U-20 level, with one draw and four losses so far.