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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 09:33 UK

S Korea accused over 'poisoning'

South Korea's Park Chu-Young (L) and North Korea's Mun In-Guk (1 April)
The two teams have played each other a number of times over the past year

North Korea has accused South Korea of poisoning its football players with an "adulterated foodstuff" ahead of last week's World Cup qualifier match.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun made the allegation after his team lost 1-0 to South Korea on 1 April. Seoul has denied the claim.

The North's football association said the act was part of Seoul's "moves for confrontation" with Pyongyang.

The match took place at a time of increasing political tension.

On Sunday, North Korea defied international warnings and pressed ahead with a controversial rocket launch.

State media said a satellite had been put into orbit and was transmitting data and revolutionary songs.

But Western powers said the launch failed - and the US, Japan and South Korea suspect it was a cover for a long-range missile test.

Neutral ground?

In a statement about the match, the North's football association said: "It was beyond all doubt that the incident was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff as [the players] could not get up all of a sudden just before the match."

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Coach Kim had asked for the match to be delayed and moved to a neutral venue, claiming three of his players had food poisoning, but FIFA rejected the request.

The Korea Football Association, the South's football federation, said a sports doctor had examined the North Korean players and found no serious problem.

The two teams have played each other a number of times in the past year, during the qualification stages for the 2010 World Cup.

But the worsening diplomatic relations between the two countries appears to have translated onto the football pitch.

North Korea's home matches have had to be played on neutral ground in Shanghai, because the North refuses to allow the playing of the South's national anthem or the waving of its flags.

Relations between the two governments have deteriorated since the new conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul last year.



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