Blatter: World Cup games in north Korea ‘very difficult’

“It is obvious that one of the points on the agenda will be the World Cup in 2002. But it will be more on the development of football in North Korea,” Blatter said of the trip, which he added was likely to take place in late October or November.
Blatter said it would be very difficult for the country, one of the few FIFA members not to enter the qualifying rounds for the 2002 finals, to host part of the tournament that will be jointly held by South Korea and Japan.
“They have to say whether they want it or don’t want it and, together with the government of South Korea, they have to make a presentation,” Blatter said, adding that he would wait until the end of November for a reply from Pyongyang.
“And I know it will be very, very difficult,” he told journalists at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon told a gathering of reporters at the same venue on Tuesday that FIFA were keeping open their dialogue with the North Koreans with a view to possibly staging some matches there.
Any decision would have to be made by the time of the draw for the World Cup finals in December.
The idea that North Korea could host matches pre-supposes that a venue in either Japan or South Korea would be willing to give up one if its allocated matches in the finals.
The South Korean government could order one of its host cities to relinquish a match, but seasoned FIFA observers believe that is highly unlikely.
In essence the dialogue echoes that of the mid-1980s when discussions between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the communist North over whether Pyongyang could host some events scheduled for the 1988 Seoul Olympics came to nothing.
The only impact North Korea have ever made in the World Cup came in the 1966 finals in England when they reached the quarter-finals.