North Korean Football Players Clash With Referee After 2-1 Loss To Japan During Asian Games Match

North Korean Football Players Argue With Referee After Losing 2-1 To Japan

The Asian Games 2023 are now well underway in Hangzhou, China, with many athletes emerging triumphant — and others bearing heartbreaking losses.

The North Korean football team made up the latter, losing 2-1 to Japan in a quarterfinal clash on 1 Oct.

Following the defeat, they surrounded the referee, arguing with him while their coach attempted to de-escalate the situation.

Speaking at a press conference after the incident, the coach said their behaviour was acceptable because the players were a “little bit over-excited.”

North Korean football players argue with referee

According to Reuters, Rustam Lutfullin was the referee for the football match between North Korea and Japan on 1 Oct.

Source: AFP via The Japan Times

In the 50th minute, Kotaro Uchino slotted home the first goal for Japan with a deflection off a North Korean player.

Kim Kuk Bom retaliated with a long-range strike, bringing the score level.

Shortly before the 80th minute, Lutfullin gave Japan a penalty after North Korean goalkeeper Kang Juh Yok clipped Jun Nishikawa’s feet with his arm.

Kang had argued with him before Yuta Matsumura scored the penalty kick in the 80th minute, effectively winning the match.

After it concluded, North Korean captain Jang Kuk Chol and teammate Kim Kyong Sok argued heatedly with Lutfullin.

Source: @save__7 on X

In footage of the incident, which has since emerged on social media, the North Korean players cornered Lutfullin, pursuing and shoving him down the field.

Coach says behaviour was acceptable

Other match officials and staff eventually had to step in to defuse the situation.

Source: @save__7 on X

The North Korean coach, Sin Yong Nam, also intervened.

Speaking at a post-match press conference, Sin said:

I admit that our players were a little bit over-excited in the match but it is football.

“But there are confrontations in football matches,” he continued. “I think our behaviour is acceptable.”

When asked, Japan coach Go Oiwa refused to comment on the incident.

Talking through a translator, “This match was as we expected. There are some things [we are] not happy about in the match, but basically we can accept that.”

Japan will next face off against Hong Kong in the semi-final, who defeated former winners Iran by 1-0.

Also read: Hammer Throw Accident Breaks Asian Games Official’s Leg, He’s Luckily In Stable Condition

Hammer Throw Accident Breaks Asian Games Official’s Leg, He’s Luckily In Stable Condition

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured image adapted from AFP via The Japan Times.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

  • More From Author