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N. Korean football team won't get any money from East Asian tournament

TOKYO North Korea will not be entitled to any prize money at this month's East Asian football championships due to economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, tournament organisers have said.

North Korea kick off the men's competition against hosts Japan in Tokyo tonight, in a politically charged clash played against the backdrop of a string of missile launches.

"Given the current international climate and based on United Nations resolutions, we have deemed that we will not be able to pay," said Japan and East Asian football chief Kozo Tashima.

Mr Tashima credited the Japanese government for issuing travel visas to North Korea's footballers, stressing that the four-team East Asian championship represented an "opportunity to show that politics has no place in sport".

Officials from the two other competing countries, South Korea and China, supported the decision on North Korea's prize money, which is unlikely to lighten the mood before a potentially explosive opening fixture.

North Korea has called for a halt to what it calls "brutal sanctions", which look set to be increased after Pyongyang's recent intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The winners of the men's tournament will earn US$250,000 (S$337,000), while the women's champions will pocket US$70,000. - WIRE SERVICES

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