Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Punishing a soccer team for losing



By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network

I just hosted a segment about North Korea on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network the other day. We talked about their missile program. Their sinking of a South Korean naval ship. Their confiscation of a South Korean fishing vessel.

We investigated their firing of 130 artillery shells into South Korean waters. Their provocative rhetoric. Their relationship with China.

We discussed the ramifications of renewing the war with the North. Would the USA and South Korea succeed? What would that mean to U.S.-Sino relations? How would China react to a possible influx of North Korean refugees should hostilities resume?

But I must admit, I missed the boat over the most provocative and dastardly action of all by the North Korean government: the punishment of their World Cup soccer team for losing.

Fifa, soccer's governing body, is investgating allegations that coach Kim Jong-hun is out of the public eye because he's been sentenced to hard labor. Fifa is also concerned over a report that the players themselves have been subjected to public humiliation.

As if their performance in South Africa wasn't humiliating enough. But I digress.

This all conjures up images of Saddam Hussein's torture chambers for failed Iraqi athletics.

There are many ways to judge the character of a nation and its leaders. The way one responds to the loss of a world championship sporting event, is just one measure.

It may not be as important as North Korea's nuclear program. But it's just as telling.

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Photo: Candice Lee under Creative Content license

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