Thanks to the championship in Japan and Korea, football could become one of the most popular sports in the country of the rising sun, even more popular than baseball. Already first matches have shown how interested Japanese (and Korean) citizens are in football fights of the championship. Almost every team has its own fans among the Japanese, while during the match they support a team they like not worse than the team’s own fans. Moreover, the Japanese know about football-player who have come to them. This could be seen at least in ovations before the Argentina – Nigeria match, with which Japanese football fans were greeting Argentine stars Batistuta and Verona, so Batistuta could not help scoring a goal which became the only one for his team. Here, there are some statistics Sport-Express gives. It turns out that about 36 percent of Tokyo citizens watched in TV the championship match France – Senegal. As for the whole country, 30.4 percent of Japanese citizens watched on Sunday the match Great Britain – Sweden, which resulted in great popularity of the captain of the British team, David Backham. According to Sport-Express, the match audience was almost twice as much as the number of viewers of Japanese baseball league match. While games with the Japanese team lie ahead: the first one with Belgium is fixed for today. And, of course, the national team’s successful game is the best advertising of football Japan could carry out. According to the experts’ forecast, already the first match of the Japanese team could beat the 1964 record, when the Japan – USSR match of volleyball Olympic tournament was watched by 66.8 percent of the Japanese. In the meanwhile, football fever gradually penetrates into the most difficult of access places of the world: North Korea. North-Koreans could not stand the boycott they declared to themselves, which is explainable: they are people, too. According to RIA ‘Novosti’, till June 2, North-Korean mass media pass over in silence the subject of the World Cup. Though, the day before yesterday, this happened: the national television suddenly showed (in record) opening ceremony of the championship and the first match France – Senegal (the France’s colony football team slapped in the face of France team, so this fact simply could not be neglected). Therefore, for the first time within 50 years, North-Koreans could watch a football match from the neighbouring South Korea and enjoy views of Seoul with numerous cars and neon signs in the pauses in the match.
Sergei Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/06/03/42154.html