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PYONGYANG, June 18. /ITAR-TASS/. North Korea's national team failed to qualify for this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. But football's far from forgotten in this reclusive state. Fans of "the beautiful game" are getting their share of excitement thanks to the state broadcaster - even if TV broadcast lags behind the rest of the globe.
A surge in football's popularity is being satisfied by taped recordings of the Brazil extravaganza.
England against Italy, played at the weekend, was aired a day-or-so later on Korean Central Television, according to output monitored across the border in South Korean capital Seoul.
The opening ceremony made it onto screens, too, as did the kick-off fixture between Brazil and Croatia along with later matches Chile-Australia, Mexico-Cameroon and Spain pitched against The Netherlands.
North Korea won its way to the World Cup in 2010 for the first time in 44 years, TV broadcasts winning enthusiastic home audiences of the flag-bearing team's performance. Under agreement with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, Pyongyang was also granted broadcast rights for the 2012 London Olympics.
Football now rates among the most popular sports in North Korea. Leader Kim Jong Un's regime recently opened an international football school and has been renovating stadium complexes, to fans' appreciation.
Kim is a known football fan himself and wants to turn the republic into a sports nation. Youth sports schools have sprouted across the land, nurturing growth potential, as do regular school curricula.
April 25 Sports Club is one of the most successful football league teams. Created in the 1970s at the initiative of then president and the current leader's late father, Kim Jong Il, it's run by the state Korean People's Army.