Fifa, world football's governing body, has begun an investigation into allegations the communist regime in North Korea punished its coach and players after a dismal World Cup performance.
Last month Radio Free Asia said all members of the North Korean squad, apart from two foreign-based players, were subjected to “harsh ideological criticism” after they lost all three matches and conceded the highest number of goals by a team at the competition.
Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said: “We sent a letter to the football federation ... to find out if the allegations made by the media that the coach and some players were punished are true. We are doing this as a first step and we will see how they answer.”
North Korea started their World Cup with a 2-1 defeat by Brazil, then lost 7-0 to Portugal and 3-0 to Ivory Coast.