KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: A South Korean footballer – midfielder Park Jong-woo – was barred from the Olympic men’s football medals presentation on a demand from the International Olympic Committee, for holding up a political message.
The Busan IPark player had been pictured raising a banner – concerning a long-running territorial dispute – as the team celebrated their 2-0 win over their Asian rivals and neighbours Japan in Cardiff on Friday. The two countries are in a dispute over islands which are known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.
Park will find himself in hot water with world football federation FIFA as well as with the IOC and his own national sports authorities.
The situation was further inflamed on Saturday when Japan said it will take the territorial dispute with South Korea to the International Court of Justice, after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit to the islands this week.
An IOC statement said: “We have opened an inquiry and have asked the NOC of the Republic of Korea for an explanation. We have also requested that the Republic of Korea NOC takes swift action on this issue and that the athlete not be present at this afternoon’s medal presentation ceremony.”
The Korean NOC acquised to the IOC demand and only 17 members of their 18-strong football squad lined up at Wembley to collect their bronze medals.
FIFA has launched its own inquiry.
A spokesman said: “In view of the information currently at his disposal, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has this afternoon decided to open disciplinary proceedings against the Korea Republic player Jongwoo Park, regarding his behaviour after the match played at the Olympic Football Tournaments London 2012 between the Republic of Korea and Japan on 10 August 2012.
“The KFA and the player now have a deadline of 16 August to provide their position. Further information will be provided in due course.”
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