The Cheonan incident seems to have been culled from the well-worn page of an even more familiar play book: North Korea breaks away free towards the South Korean goal thanks to a non-called Yellow Card move, its superior opponent gets scored upon and World Referees then take to cautiously reviewing the tape to make a difficult call.
But as the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Nations, qualified pundits, unqualified pundits and more debate what should be done next in the wake of the egregious March 26th Cheonan attack, I have a personal suggestion, from my own play book. Threaten to immediately revoke North Korea‘s eligibility for the 2010 World Cup of Soccer.
Yes, I know, generally speaking the separation of sports and politics is a principle as sacrosanct as the division of church and state. But North Korea‘s fatal torpedoing of a South Korean destroyer is as good a reason as any to consider an exception to this rule. We are all familiar with the Olympics and drug testing, but isn’t it time for the world to consider adding in to global-scale events such as this summer’s South African gathering the separate concept of thug testing?
I have a sneaking suspicion that if you suddenly told Kim Jong-il that North Korea could no longer plan on taking part in the two-and-a-half-dozen country tourney unless it returned to the Six-Party talks with Cheonan apology & reparations in tow, North Korea would be forced to respond as propitiously as Bill Clinton did to that personal invite last summer. There is always the risk that the Hermit Kingdom, as it likes to do with UN sanctions, would turn the World Cup Soccer ban into more poor-us internal propaganda.
But surely, at this stage of the geopolitical game, a FIFA-FU is worth a shot.