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Sports Programs

Brazilian Footballers in Friendly Match with North Koreans

Portugues

Pyongyang, North Korea - About 80,000 fans packed Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Stadium to watch a friendly football match between a visiting Brazilian club and the North Korean team, according to the Pyongyang state news agency. The Atlético Sorocaba players held the North Koreans to a goalless draw in a tightly-contested match that was part of North Korea's preparations for next year's World Cup.

For a video of the match, interviews with the Brazilian athletes, and scenes of North Korean life, click here. The seven-minute Brazilian-produced video is in Portuguese.

Atlético Sorocaba is based in Sao Paulo state and plays in the Campeonato Paulista league. It won the 2008 league championship. The club is owned by UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who sees athletic competitions, and football in particular, as a way of dissolving barriers, promoting understanding and good sportsmanship, and building peace. Friendly matches are one of many initiatives by Rev. Moon, who was born in what is now North Korea and escaped to the South during the Korean War, to build bridges between the reclusive state and the larger world.

The World Cup in South Africa next year will be North Korea's second opportunity to compete in the world's most widely-viewed sporting event. During the 1966 World Cup in England, it ousted Italy on the way to the quarterfinals, where it lost 5-3 to Portugal. In October, North Korea held a training camp in France, also in preparation for the World Cup competition among 32 top national teams from around the world. Matches with local club Nantes as well as the Republic of Congo ended in draws.

Athletic competitions have also sparked cooperation between North and South Korea. The 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Japan was the first tournament in which athletes from both North and South competed together under the “Unification Flag,” a white flag bearing a crystal-blue Korean peninsula which has been carried in every cooperative sports undertaking since. The women's team beat China in the finals. In the opening ceremonies of several Olympic Games, teams from North and South Korea marched together under the joint flag.

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