Perugia's North Korean forward Kwang Song Han was banned from appearing on Italian TV by his country, according to the Serie B club's president Massimiliano Santopadre.
The 19-year-old, who has scored five goals in six Serie B games this season, was due to appear on RAI's "La Domenica Sportiva" programme at the weekend.
However, only hours before he was due to drive up to Milan, where the programme is filmed, he received a call from North Korea forbidding him to go.
"A call from a not very clear ministry figure arrived and it blocked everything," Santopadre, who appeared on the programme with an empty seat next to him, told La Stampa. "Negotiating, like on the transfer market, was impossible, also because Pyongyang want to talk only and exclusively with Han.
"The situation with their government has become even more rigid and their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scared."
Santopadre said on RAI that the player was "locked in his room -- he's only 19 and didn't feel up to appearing [on TV]," without revealing the real reason for his absence until a few days later.