English soccer is big business and since the Premier League is seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, various countries around the world have sponsored themselves for tourism. For instance, Cardiff City has a “Visit Malaysia” shirt sponsor while Arsenal has a “Visit Rwanda” sleeve sponsor.
A team several levels down the English soccer pyramid is getting in on those sweet tourism dollars and they’re getting that with, of all places, North Korea.
Blyth sits on the coast of Northeastern England near Newcastle and their team, Blyth Spartans AFC sits on the sixth level of the English soccer pyramid. And when it comes to an amateur team, they need all the sponsorship and revenue they can get. And for (likely) that reason, they’re aligning with North Korea.
— Non League Nomads (@Nonleaguenomads) December 26, 2018
Due to their highly secretive nature, there’s no confirmation that this advertisement actually came from the nation itself or it’s an Onion-esque joke. Mark Scott, who does promotion for the team revealed that this is a legit sponsorship but didn’t say whether this came from the nation itself or from a group unaffiliated with North Korea. The website from the ad goes to this site which offers various programs to visit North Korea.
While the country seems off limits to outside tourists, about 5,000 tourists visit the country per year but it’s still not recommended if you’re American. On the rare times Americans do go to North Korea, like Lebanese-American soccer player Soony Saad, he used his Lebanese passport to get in the country so he could play for Lebanon in an Asian Cup qualifier.
Joke or not, if this ad gets people to actually go to North Korea, then it’s effective advertising. But with everything going on with North Korea as well as the ethical dilemma of visiting a country with a communist dictatorship, keep in mind that there’s plenty of other great places around the world that tourists can visit.