The Fifa president Sepp Blatter has confirmed that the governing body plans to investigate reports of mistreatment of North Korea's players and coach after the World Cup.
According to the reports, the coach Kim Jong-hun was sentenced to hard labour and his squad were subjected to a six-hour interrogation by government officials following a World Cup campaign which ended with three straight defeats.
Blatter told a press conference in Singapore that Fifa had contacted the new president of the North Korean football association and were looking into the matter.
"We contacted them to discuss the election of a new president, and if they are true, the allegations made by the media that the coach and some players have been condemned or punished.
"The first step is the federation and we'll see what the answer will be, and then we can elaborate on that." Fifa takes a dim view of government interference in footballing matters and has often in the past suspended affected federations.
It is believed athletes in the secretive Communist country have previously been jailed for poor performances.
Reuters Adds: Last month, Radio Free Asia said that the Korean squad, apart from two foreign-based players, were subjected to "harsh ideological criticism."
Blatter said the investigation was launched after FIFA executive committee member Chung Mong-joon, from South Korea, had delivered new information on the issue.
Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam, who recently travelled to the secretive communist nation, said he was hopeful the investigation would prove conclusive.