N. Korea demands rematch at Asian Cup

Updated: 2006-07-30 13:45
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North Korea demanded a rematch with China after its 1-0 loss in the women's Asian Cup soccer semifinals, which it blamed on unfair refereeing.

TV images of the Thursday match in Adelaide, Australia, showed North Korean players arguing with a referee after a potential equalizer was disallowed in injury time for an offside infringement.

North Koreans threw bottles and other objects at the referees, and goalkeeper Han Hye Yong kicked the Italian referee, Ann de Toni, from behind while the official was leaving the pitch.

Han, along with two other players, were suspended from the third-place match against Japan on Sunday for violent conduct, the Asian Football Confederation said.

On Saturday, North Korea sent a protest letter to the confederation, blaming its loss to China on "the deliberate and undisguised partial refereeing," the North's state media reported late Saturday.

"All facts prove that the Italian referee and the Australian linesman, prompted by a vicious aim to make the (North) Korean team fail at any cost, resorted to premeditated and deliberate partial refereeing," said the letter carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

The letter demanded a rematch with China and withdrawal of the North Korean players' disqualification, which the North said was an "unreasonable measure."

It also demanded the Italian referee be punished.

China advanced to the final against Australia with the narrow win over the two-time defending champion North Korea.

The top two teams from this tournament secure places at the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

With China getting an automatic place as host of the World Cup, the winner of the third-place match will win the other qualifying place.