One of the strangest and most alarming incidents in modern football history is almost five years old.
Football fans with a good memory might remember when footage of a North Korean goalkeeper remarkably conceding a drop-kick from his opposite number went viral back in 2016.
The mind-boggling goal transpired during the AFC Under-16 Championship with Uzbekistan’s shot-stopper lumping a long ball up the pitch that should never have found its way into the net.
Bizarre viral goal
However, in a staggering few seconds of football that still makes for strange viewing, North Korea’s Jang Paek-ho bungled several attempts to stop the kick from bobbling across his own goal-line.
Jang bizarrely rushed out of the confines of his penalty area in a lame attempt to head away the pass before it even touched the ground and then inexplicably failed to rectify the initial miss.
It looked as though the North Korean had all the time in the world to race back and prevent a goal for Uzbekistan, but instead seemed to hold back his running and hit the ground twice over.
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Jang banned for one year
Well, according to BBC Sport, it later turned out that Jang had deliberately conceded the goal and that fans accusing the video of featuring ‘match-fixing’ weren’t necessarily a million miles away.
Two months after North Korea suffered the 3-1 defeat to Uzbekistan in which the bizarre goal took place, the Asian Football Confederation dished out a number of fines and punishments.
Manager Yung Jong-su was slapped with a £4,000 fine, North Korea’s football association was ordered to pay £16,000 and Jang picked up a £800 fine along with a one-year ban.
The BBC reports that the official ruling was that Yung and Jang had “brought the game into disrepute” by way of “the deliberate conceding of a goal”.
Why did they deliberately concede?
North Korea’s defeat meant that Uzbekistan went on to play eventual winners Iraq in the quarter-finals whereas they faced a weaker Oman side on the way to a semi-final defeat against Iran.
The nations’ final-four finish meant that they qualified for the U17 World Cup, which the AFC allowed them to compete in without either Jang or Yung.
Nevertheless, the footballing authorities did warn that North Korea would be banned from the 2018 AFC U19 Championship if they were to “engage in similar behaviour” during qualifying games.
The circumstances under which the entire episode came about remains foggy, but it certainly doesn’t take a master detective to watch back the footage and note that something was array.