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Japanese soccer team gets upgrade; Korean men's team gets reprieve

August 11, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Coach Norio Sasaki talks to Japan's women's team after they lost the gold-medal game to the U.S.
Coach Norio Sasaki talks to Japan's women's team after they… (Yomiuri Shimbun / McClatchy-Tribune )

LONDON -- Japan has upgraded its women's soccer team for its flight home despite the fact the reigning World Cup champions failed to win the gold in the London Olympics.

Japan's soccer association was chided for making the world champions fly coach to London while the country's less-accomplished men's team flew first class. But association President Kuniya Daini confirmed the women will have better seats on the trip home.

"They won a medal, so they will go back business class," he said. "We have got the seats booked."

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The Korean men's team got even better news after it beat the aforementioned Japanese men, 2-0, in the third-place game, giving the country its first medal in soccer. Their prize means the players are now exempt from military service back home.

“I’m very happy to win the bronze medal and everybody here will now get a new chance by being exempted from military service,” said Park Chu Young, who gave the Koreans the only score they would need with a spectacular goal in the 38th minute. “That’s what I’m really pleased about because that was our aim at the start of the tournament."

Park had earlier been dropped from the full national team for trying to escape his military obligation by taking up residency in Monaco.

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