South Korea and Iran have announced that they are to sign a sports exchange agreement later this week, bringing an end to the bitter feud that broke out during their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Both countries went through to the 2014 tournament in Brazil after a 1-0 win for Iran in Ulsan last month, with the game played after a flurry of angry exchanges between South Korea coach Choi Kang-Hee - who resigned after the defeat - and Iran counterpart Carlos Queiroz. It began last month when Queiroz accused Choi of "humiliating" the Iranian people by claiming he and his players had been "badly treated" around their 1-0 defeat in Tehran last year, saying he should issue an apology. Choi declined to do so and said he wanted to knock Iran out of the competition, leaving Queiroz to watch it at home on television. "It looks like Iran is nervous," he said. "When feeling burdened or chased after, you talk a lot and engage in unnecessary provocation. "I will defeat Iran no matter what. Coach Queiroz will be watching the Brazil World Cup on TV." But his team's defeat, in a highly-charged atmosphere, proved too much for Choi. After the game, the Korea Football Association website crashed as furious fans tried to leave their comments about a poor performance, and the coach quit the following day. The bad blood had continued after the final whistle, with the KFA hitting out at Queiroz for his exuberant celebrations and claiming he had made gestures. That, however, has not prevented the two countries from signing the sports exchange deal, which replaces a similar arrangement that expired in 2010. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday. Yoo Jin-Ryong, the South Korean minister of culture, sports and tourism, and Mohammad Abbasi, Iran's minister of youth affairs and sports, will put their names to the agreement, which covers bilateral exchange of athletes, coaches and sports experts. "We hope this signing will further expand sports exchanges and cooperation between South Korea and Iran," Yoo was quoted as saying by the South's Yonhap news agency. "We also hope that the two countries will actively engage in exchange programmes in culture and tourism, among other areas."
GettyImagesCarlos Queiroz had accused Choi of 'insulting' the Iranian people