Why, the Chinese, of course.
One of the stranger FIFA World Cup news stories to appear (so far) regards North Korea enlisting around a thousand PRC Chinese to pose as their “fans” during their soccer matches in South Africa.
Funny thing is, most of the Chinese who comprised the “fans volunteer army” knew next to nothing about soccer or the World Cup.
Evidently, the problem for the DPRNK was finding enough butts to fill their allocated seats at their games, butts that, presumably, could be trusted to return home at the end of the World Cup games. They managed to provide only a “group of 300 [who] had been carefully chosen by the North Korean Government.”
Being that the Norks were only able to “carefully select” 300 of their own people, they arranged for supplemental Chinese nationals to don the same red fan uniforms as their own people with the objective of providing support for their players.
You know, it has to be said, it’s bad enough when teams surreptitiously bring in ringers to play for them but when you have to fly in artificial fans, well, that that sets a new standard for the pathetic.
The London Evening Standard subject article reports, “Although they [DPRNK fan group] sang their national anthem loudly, the group tended only to cheer when directed by a man who stood before them like an orchestra’s conductor.”
Still, the Chinese were reported to be enjoying the games, cheering conductor and all. Can’t find any fault there. Lemons into lemonade: Wear a red uni and score free seats to a world class quadrennial sports event.
In a further botched attempt to endear North Korea to the world, the team’s “manager Kim Jong Hun rebuked a journalist for not using his country’s full name – Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea,” the same article reported.
Democratic People’s Republic, Banking Reform Bill... since when does a name of something have anything to do with accuracy of terms, anyway, right?
The saddest thing is, the North Koreans played decent soccer in their opener while losing to perennially strong Brazil by only one goal, and their back four defenders played very well together. You’ve got to give respect to the players. Obviously they’ve trained hard and have developed their skills, and playing in the shadow of an oppressive regime can’t be easy.