Marketing Football

Perspectives from the Japan Football League (J. League)

Authored by: Yoshifumi Bizen , Shintaro Sato

Routledge Handbook of Football Marketing

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138289321
eBook ISBN: 9781315267203
Adobe ISBN: 9781351972369


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Following the introduction of football to Japan by the British Navy in 1873, the Japanese football society has accumulated a rich history. The national team won the bronze medal in the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and has qualified for five consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments since its first appearance in 1998. However, the history of the domestic professional football league is relatively short. The first ever J. League match kicked off on May 15, 1993. Historically in Japan, many sports including football were developed as amateur sports supported by companies for more than a century. Most players became employees of those companies and played for their companies’ teams. The discussion towards establishing a Japanese professional football league for future globalization started in the late 1980s. In the new professional football league system, teams were made independent of their corporations and became professional teams known as “clubs.” Because teams are representing specific towns, the establishment of the J. League has transformed Japanese sports culture. The J. League put forth a slogan, “The one-hundred-year vision.” This means that the J. League aims to contribute to creating a society in which everyone can enjoy any sport through football. In line with the slogan, the league has made great progress not only in raising the level of Japanese football but also in fostering the development of Japan’s sporting culture to assist in the healthy mental and physical growth of Japanese people (J. League, 2016b).

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