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Tough times for World Cup flops

PARIS, July 1 – North Koreans risk being sent to the coal mines while Nigeria get slapped with a two-year ban from international football.England’s World Cup flops should count themselves lucky that their most pressing concern is trial by tabloid.

On their arrival home the North Korean squad was described as ‘stony-faced’, which could be a bad sign given what former national coach Moon Ki-Nam told reporters after the 7-0 group stage humiliation by Portugal.

What made it worse was that it was beamed live into the reclusive Communist state after they had performed respectably in a 2-1 defeat by five-time champions Brazil in their opening match.

"The players and coach are rewarded with huge houses when they win," said Moon, who fled the country in 2004.

"But they have to atone for losing by being sent to work in the coal mines."

There have been legendary tales down the years of the treatment meted out to football failures under unscrupulous regimes.

The late Uday Hussein, son of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam, had novel ways of punishing Iraqi players who did not come up to scratch.

Hussein’s favourite punishment methods reportedly included flogging with an electric cable or being forced to take a bath in raw sewage.

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Nigeria flopped at the World Cup, finishing bottom of their group in South Africa with just one point from three matches. They lost to Argentina and Greece and drew with South Korea.

On Wednesday, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan banned the national team from international competition for two years following their dismal showing.

France’s chaotic first-round exit prompted French Football Federation President Jean-Pierre Escalettes to step down.

Escalettes and coach Raymond Domenech have also been called to appear before a parliamentary commission.

Punishment and retribution come in many forms.

The most poignant was the fate that befell Colombia’s Andres Escobar, whose own goal in the 1994 World Cup clash with the United States led to a surprise defeat and the fancied South Americans exiting at the first hurdle.

On his return home, Escobar was gunned down, the victim of a contract killing ordered by gangsters who blamed the defender for costing them huge betting losses on the tournament.

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