- Football in Japan
Japanhas become one of the most popular sport in the country. Its nation wide organisation, Japan Football Associationadministers the professional football league, J. Leaguewhich is the most successful football league in Asia.
Although the official English name of the
Japan Football Associationuses the term "football", the term "sakkā" (サッカー), derived from "soccer", is much more commonly used than "futtobōru" (フットボール). The JFA's Japanese name is "Nippon Sakkā Kyōkai".
World War IIthe term in general use was "shūkyū" (蹴球, "kick-ball"), a Sino-Japanese term. With Japanese militarismreplaced by American influence after the war, "sakkā" became more commonplace. In recent years, many professional teams have named themselves F.C.s (football clubs), with examples being F.C. Tokyoand Yokohama F.C.
Football was introduced in
Meiji periodby O-yatoi gaikokujin, foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government, along with many other Western sports. The first Japanese football club is considered to be Tokyo Shukyu-dan, founded in 1917, which is now competing in the TokyoPrefectural amateur league.
In the 1920s, football association were organized and regional tournaments began in universities and high schools especially in Tokyo. In 1930, the
Japan national football teamwas organized and had a 3-3 tie with China for their first title at the Far Eastern Championship Games. Japan national team also participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, the team had a first victory in an Olympic game with a 3-2 win over powerful Sweden.
The first organized national league, the
Japan Soccer League, was organized in 1965 with eight amateur company clubs. At the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, the Japan national team, filled with the top JSL stars of the era, had its first big success winning third place and a bronze medal. Olympic success spurred the creation of a Second Division for the JSL and openings for the first few professional players, in the beginning foreigners (mainly Brazilians), and a few from other countries. Japanese players, however, remained amateur, having to work day jobs for the companies owning the clubs (or other companies if their clubs were autonomous). This limited the growth of the Japanese game, and many better Japanese players had to move abroad to make a living off the game, such as Yasuhiko Okudera, the first Japanese player to play in a professional European club, ( 1. FC Kolnof Germany).
In 1993, the Japan Professional Football League (commonly known as the "J. League") was formed replacing the semi-professional Japan Soccer League as the new top-level club competition in Japan. It consisted of some of the top clubs from the old JSL, fully professionalized, renamed to fit communities and with the corporate identity reduced to a minimum. The new higher-standard league attracted many more spectators and helped the sport to hugely increase in popularity.
Japan participated in its first-ever World Cup tournament at the
1998 FIFA World Cupheld in France. In 2002, Japan co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cupwith Republic of Korea. After this, the football communities of both countries received the FIFA Fair Play Award. The Japanese national team reached the Round of 16 which is its best World Cup performance to date. It also qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cupin Germany.
Football in fiction
The first worldwide popular football-oriented Japanese cartoon (
manga) series, " Captain Tsubasa", was started in 1981. "Captain Tsubasa" was extremely popular among children (boys and girls) in Japan. Its success led to many more football manga being written, and it played a great role in football history in Japan. Playing football became more popular than playing baseball in many schools throughout Japan from 1980s due to the series. Many people who grew up reading "Captain Tsubasa" are now in their 20s and 30s and form a large part of the current football fanbase. It even inspired national team players such as Hidetoshi Nakataand Yoshikatsu Kawaguchito take up the sport in the first place.
As in Europe's advanced countries, Japanese women's football is organized on a promotion and relegation basis. The top flight of women's football is the semi-professional
L. League(currently billed as the "Nadeshiko League"). Most clubs are independent clubs, although the recent trend is to have women's sections of established J. League clubs.
Unlike in most of the West, Japanese sports fans cheer good sports performances regardless of gender, and do not take into account the physical beauty of the female players; [http://www.jsoccer.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1197006748&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1&] this allows for a dedicated following among Japanese fans. Nonetheless, the Japanese women do not get much government or private backing, which often renders them unable to catch up to the Communist sports machines backing the Chinese and North Korean national teams.
Championships and Tournaments
J. League(Japan Professional Football League) is the top national league in Japan with a J1 division and a J2 division.
Japan Football League(JFL) is the national amateur league.
Emperor's Cup(since 1921) the national cup.
All Japan Senior Football Championship, cup for clubs in regional leagues below JFL.
Other international tournaments held in Japan
* 1958 3rd Asian Games,
* 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games
1979 FIFA World Youth Championship
1992 AFC Asian Cup, Hiroshima
1993 FIFA U-17 World Championship
* 1994 12th Asian Games,
* 1998 Dynasty Cup,
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup(joint with South Korea)
2002 FIFA World Cup(joint with South Korea)
* Intercontinental Cup / Toyota European/South American Cup (1981–2004)
Notable Japanese footballers
Kunishige Kamamoto(1944 - ), Top socrer in 1968 Summer Olympics.
Yasuhiko Okudera(1952 - ), The first Japanese player in the European League (Bundesliga).
Kazuyoshi Miura(1967 - ), Asian Footballer of the Yearin 1993.
Masami Ihara(1967 - ), Most capped (122) player and Asian Footballer of the Year in 1995.
Hidetoshi Nakata(1977 - ), Asian Footballer of the Year in 1997 and 1998
Shunsuke Nakamura(1978 - ), Scottish Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year in 2007.
Shinji Ono(1979 - ), Asian Footballer of the Year in 2002.
"See also ."
National team achievements
* 1968 Mexico Olympic Games - Bronze Medal
* 1992 2nd Dynasty Cup 1992 - Champion
* 1992 10th Asian Cup - Champion
* 1993 5th Afro-Asian Nations Cup - Champion
* 1995 3rd Dynasty Cup - Champion
* 1998 4th Dynasty Cup - Champion
1999 FIFA World Youth Championship- Silver Medal
* 2000 12th Asian Cup - Champion
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup- Silver Medal
2002 FIFA World Cup- Round of 16
* 2004 13th Asian Cup - Champion
easons in Japanese football
List of football clubs in Japan
Japan national football team
Japanese football league system
Japanese football champions
* [http://www.jfa.or.jp/ Japan Football Association] ( [http://www.jfa.or.jp/e/index.html English version] )
Football in Japan
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