Posted on July 26, 2012
By Michael Lewis
GLASGOW — A controversy over the failure to use the correct flags to introduce North Korean players on the scoreboard caused the start of their game to be delayed for more than an hour at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.
After the situation was rectified, the Koreans went on to register a 2-0 win as Kim Song Hui scored a goal in each half in a Group G opener. Kim might be doubtful for the Asians’ Saturday encounter against France at the same venue because she suffered an injury and was taken off the field in stoppage time.
The start of the match was delayed an hour when the North Korean players refused to take the field due to a mistake by the Local Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, which displayed South Korean flags next to names and photos of the North Korean players.
The Korean players walked off the field during pre-game warm-ups.
“We were angry because our players were introduced as if they were from South Korea, which may affect us greatly, as you might know,” North Korea coach Sin Ui Gun said.
“Winning the game cannot compensate; it is a different question, a different matter. . . Although we won the game, we hope this will not happen again in the next matches.
“Also, I want to stress once again that our players cannot be shown as other countries, especially with South Korean flags.”
LOCOG apologized in a statement.
“Today ahead of the women’s football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag,” a LOCOG statement read. “Clearly that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”
LOCOG did not help the situation in its statement because officially, North Korea is known as the Democrat People’s Republic of Korea and South Korea as the Republic of Korea. It was not known if there was any fallout from that.
Asked if he felt the error with the flags was a premeditated act or a simple mistake, North Korean coach Sin Ui Gun replied, “That question is what I was going to ask LOCOG and FIFA.”
Colombia coach Ricardo Rozo Ocampo claimed the delay affected his players.
“It was very difficult for us,” he said. “After the incident with the flag, we had to wait and warm up again and that took a lot of time. It affected the players’ mood. We were very, very ready for the game and it definitely affected us, but we have two more matches to play and we can come back from this.
“We got off to a bad start after the incident with the flag, but it has not affected how we feel about the competition.”
Ocampo admitted that he had not seen a situation like this in the Pan American Games or in South America.
“I have never seen a situation where one country can delay a match by an hour,” he said. “It is a rare situation.”
Korea will play France in its second group match at Hampden Park on SAturday before taking on the United States in Manchester, England on Tuesday.
Categories: Olympic Qualifying, Women
Tags: 2012 London Olympics