Johannesburg: Football’s world governing body FIFA today denied rumours that four North Korea players listed as no-shows for their World Cup match against Brazil have gone missing in South Africa.
FIFA said it had “no information” that the four players had gone missing, amid reports they may have tried to defect.
The official teamsheet for the North Koreans’ 2-1 defeat to Brazil on Tuesday listed substitute goalkeeper Kim Myong-Won, An Chol-Hyok, Kim Kyong-Il and Pak Sung-Hyok as “absent”.
“We have no information that the players may have disappeared,” a FIFA spokesman said.
“Our liaison officer with North Korea hasn’t signaled anything to us.”
The North Korean team is expected to hold a press conference in Johannesburg at 1500 GMT today, ahead of their next match against Portugal in Cape Town on Monday.
An official at the South Korean embassy in Johannesburg said it had not picked up any out-of-the-ordinary movements regarding the North Korean squad.
Media access to the players from one of the world’s most reclusive nations has been extremely restricted since they arrived in South Africa to contest their first World Cup in 44 years.
In their only previous appearance at the finals, at the 1966 tournament in England, they created one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by beating European giants Italy.