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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Japan turns football on its head
Vertical football in Osaka
Aerial shots take on a whole new meaning
Football has gained considerable popularity in Japan, but even after last year's World Cup finals, it's a fair bet that local fans were not prepared for the vertical game.

But in Osaka, 12 storeys above the ground, football is defying gravity.

Admittedly, it isn't a full 11-a-side 90-minute match - only two players in action for 20 minutes a time.

But the publicity stunt, part of a campaign by the sports goods manufacturer Adidas, is pulling in the spectators.

"It's awesome," said 23-year-old student Yuki Shimamura. "I've never seen anything like it before."

The players are attached to rubber cords of the kind usually used by bungy jumpers, and so is the ball.

The players already had a head for heights - one of the pair, 43-year-old Hisanori Kizu, cleans windows on Osaka skyscrapers.

"I've bungy-jumped a few times so this doesn't bother me at all and it's actually a lot of fun," he said.

Adidas hope the campaign will build on momentum created by the 2002 World Cup, jointly-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

The players hope to take the vertical game to another country where football is still a newcomer - the United States.

Times Square in New York is the next venue in their sights.

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