22 01 2016 DPR Korea

I am back in Doha for the AFC U-23 Championship. Basically, the top teams qualify for the Olympic Football tournament held in Brazil later in the year.

2A six-hour wait for accreditation due to the “Qatar FBI” wanting to make checks to my passport along with 4 others was not the ideal start!

Six goals… none up my end was not the idea start!

 

 

With Japan and Iran going into extra time, a fast driver took me through the streets of Doha from the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium to the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium for the second Quarter Final, hosts Qatar v North Korea.

Although the sunsets are stunning, the stadiums are so unique – why aren’t English lower league stadiums designed like these? When North Korea play, you simply want to focus all of your attention on their intriguing fans.

8

They seem such a happy bunch!

There are no songs of “We only sing when we are winning..” just screams and cheers when North Korea have possession of the ball, or quite literally touch it.

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They all wear smart shirts, some wear red caps, some hold national flags, most have their tickets in their top pockets.

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They all look the same yet are so individual.

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We don’t know much about this country that some call strange.

I chat to a journalist friend who I have known for years about FIFA corruption.

In some cultures, you simply employ your friends and family – other cultures class this as nepotism.

In America culture, you undercut in order to knock out your rivals – other cultures class this as devaluing your product. Whilst in other cultures, people use the philosophy of what’s in it for me / you do this and you can do that. Some cultures call this bribery. When the world meets, cultural difference is so plainly alive and kicking.

Whilst in other cultures, people use the philosophy of what’s in it for me / you do this and you can do that. Some cultures call this bribery. When the world meets, cultural difference is so plainly alive and kicking.

When the world meets, cultural difference is so plainly alive and kicking.

6

Us football followers all hear stories about DPR Korea state television ‘editing’ highlights to show that their team have won the World Cup again. In this game the ball was put into the net for no apparent reason during a break in play, the fans cheered, the cynical suggested this was the goal that the government wanted for their propaganda.

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They did score a goal, an absolute belter! A free kick with about 80 seconds to go. That meant extra time.

It would be wrong to say the stadium returned to silence as the team had not kicked a ball for three minutes after the final whistle. Win a header and scream. Hold possession of the ball and shout. Score a goal and go crazy!

Win a header and scream. Hold possession of the ball and shout. Score a goal and go crazy!

Hold possession of the ball and shout. Score a goal and go crazy!

Score a goal and go crazy!

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At the end, losing 2-1, the ‘fans’ just put on their jackets and left in single file which any school teacher would have been proud of.

The human zoo is over. Time to return to scarfs, chanting, streamers, banners and actions football is mostly accustomed to.