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Tunku Ismail against decision to hold football match in Pyongyang

PETALING JAYA: Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim says he is against the decision to allow the national team to play against North Korea in Pyongyang due to security reasons.

In a statement on Thursday, Tunku Ismail, who is also the Johor Crown Prince, said that the safety of Malaysians comes first.

He said he would leave the matter to the Government and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to decide whether the Harimau Malaya should play their 2019 Asian Cup qualifying Group B match against North Korea in Pyongyang on June 8.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) made a decision two days ago to play the match as scheduled in Pyongyang since there were no travel restrictions from the Malaysian Government.

The FAM could face sanctions and fines by AFC if it decides not to play the game. And this has put FAM in a difficult spot.

The FAM has once again appealed to AFC to play the match in a neutral venue.

North Korea was supposed to host the Group B game at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on March 28.

But the FAM had requested the AFC for permission to play the match at a neutral venue because of the diplomatic crisis caused by the death of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Malaysia had said that assassins used the VX nerve agent, a chemical listed by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction, to kill Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) on Feb 13.