Colombia/North Korea kick-off delayed over flag mix-up

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North Korea’s women’s soccer team found itself embroiled in controversy before a ball had even been kicked.

That didn’t take long, did it. Members of the Colombia Women’s National Team were made to wait upwards of an hour as a result of a flag snafu on the part of tournament organizers. It’s the first Olympic group stage match between the two sides.

An image of the South Korean flag appeared on the scoreboard next to the North Korean players’ headshots during team introductions. The North Korean team also reportedly took umbrage to the fact the South Korean flag is on display at Hampden Park.

The official word from tournament organizers:

“Today ahead of the women’s football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag. Clearly that is a mistake. We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

North Korea’s displeasure over the goof is largely understandable. Showing the wrong flag is embarrassing enough; the fact the offending flag was that of a political adversary makes it even worse.

Colombia and North Korea met in the final group stage game of the 2011 World Cup and played to an unremarkable 0-0 draw. Depending on how proceedings go, today’s match could be remembered for something other than the final result.