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South Korea rejects North's poison claim

SOUTH Korea has rejected claims by North Korea that it poisoned its players before last week's 2010 World Cup qualifier in Seoul, as tensions mounted over the North's long-range rocket launch on Sunday.

North Korea has accused the South of sickening its players with "adulterated foodstuff" ahead of the match and wants football's world governing body to investigate the claim.

The North's football association also claimed that the alleged food-poisoning is part of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's "moves for confrontation" with the North.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun had raised the allegation after losing 0-1 to South Korea last Wednesday.

"It was beyond all doubt that the incident was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff as they could not get up all of a sudden just before the match," a statement from the North said late on Sunday, expanding on complaints which Kim made in the wake of the loss.

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 soccer federation, said a professional sports doctor had examined the North Korean players and found no serious problem. More detailed examinations, including blood tests, were refused.

The North's football association also renewed a complaint about the decision of the referee not to award a goal early in the second half of the game, claiming star striker Jong Tae-se's header crossed the goal line before it was saved. Television replays were inconclusive.

Kim Joo-sung, KFA international affairs chief, said the accusations were politically motivated and baseless. "The statement sets a high political tone, not about the sport itself. There's no need to respond to it," he was quoted as saying.


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