Malaysia considering N. Korea travel warning before Asian Cup preliminary

SEOUL-- Malaysia, which has been at serious diplomatic odds over the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half brother Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport early this year, is studying the issuance of a North Korea travel warning in order to change the venue of its upcoming Asian Cup preliminary against the North from Pyongyang to a neutral area, a U.S. broadcaster said Friday.

The Malaysian government will notify the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) of its decision on the travel warning as early as possible, Voice of America quoted Malaysian Sports Minister Khairy Jamalud din Abu Bakar as telling the Singaporean English-language broadcaster Channel NewsAsia.

The preliminary, originally set for March 28 in the North Korean capital, was put off after Kim's assassination in February. Since then, FAM has called for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to change its venue to a neutral region, citing safety problems.

However, the Asian football governing body recently concluded that the match should be held in Pyongyang on June 8.

"We're considering the travel warning as the AFC is taking a stand that it will only consider the game at a neutral region after a travel warning issuance," the minister said.

FAM is highly worried that referees might also feel psychological pressure when they decide against North Korean players out of concern for their safety, FAM President Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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