North Korean Women's Soccer Team Refuses to Play Olympic Match After Flag Mix-Up

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJuly 25, 2012

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 25:  An official of DPR Korea gestures to the national flag as it is displayed wrongly causing a delay to the kick off during the Women's Football first round Group G Match of the London 2012 Olympic Games between Colombia and Korea DPR, at Hampden Park on July 25, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

The North Korean women's soccer team wasn't a favorite to win the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, but the squad almost didn't play at all after a dispute about the country's flag.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that North Korea initially didn't take the field in its opening match against Colombia because the South Korean flag was mistakenly put on the scoreboard.

Forty minutes after the scheduled start time, the North Koreans finally took the field.

North Korea was knocked out of the group stage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The team was also knocked out of the group stage of the 2011 Women's World Cup.

The country's absence most likely wouldn't change the final outcome of the Olympics this summer, but it is still a black mark early on in London.

As for Colombia, the side also isn't expected to contend for the gold medal this year, knocked out of the group stage of the 2011 World Cup while failing to garner a victory in the competition.

It's not yet known what will be said and done after the mistake on Wednesday, but it's clear that the North Koreans had a problem with organizers mixing up their flag with South Korea's—fairly understandable.

The flags have similar colors, but there is no excuse for that on the world stage. Players take great pride in their countries, and it's obvious North Korea felt slighted by the mishap.


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