Koreas come to Shanghai
Right place, right time? I'm in Shanghai China where I live from time to time with my
native wife, and I just enjoyed a front row seat on March 5 for the LA Galaxy -East Asia
Shanghai Hong Kong exhibition match, won by LA 3-0. I even snuck into a closed practice
and got to banter briefly with Golden Balls himself, coach Ruud Gullit, Alexi Lalas,
Cobi Jones and other lower paid members of the team. That done, I thought that was it for
football in China. Was I wrong.
The two Koreas, North and South, drawn into the same World Cup qualifying group, were scheduled to play their first home and away match in Pyongyang, the East Berlin, of the North on March 26 when a disagreement arose. The DPRKs refused to give permission for the South to 1) display their flag, 2) play their anthem and 3) have away supporters present. After tense negotiations
it was agreed to play the match here in Shanghai, with the North essentially giving up a home game. Mental, but understadable as the two countries are technically still at war and the South
the favored team to beat.
So for the last week I have been trying to find out where the match will be played and how to score tickets. I e-mailed the Koryo Tours people, the Brits who run tours into the North, and got an invite to a showing of the documentary film they did about the 1966 DPRK team , the one that beat Italy 1-0. Then after calling FIFA in Zurich, saying I was with independent media trying to get more information, they sent me an application for press accreditation. So I am hoping one of my Kansai magazines comes through with an editors' signature and I can cover the match from the press box. Magnificent. Stay tuned.