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Soccer and Japan


On June 4th at Saitama Stadium, it was near the end of the game. The moment Honda scored the penalty, Japan was filled with the sound of applause and delight. Japan has won a ticket to the World Cup for three years in a row.

History of soccer in Japan is not that long.
It has only been 20 years since the Japanese professional league, Jリーグ(J League) , was established.
The most popular sport in Japan was baseball up to this point, The establishment of J league was a big help in raising the popularity of soccer.
Everyone admired and looked up to star players such as Kazuyoshi Miura and Ramos Ruy. Also, foreign players all around the world taught Japan how amazing world level soccer is.

In those days, Japan's national team was not as strong. It grew to be one of the strongest teams in Asia, but no one ever thought that Japan would stand a chance to play a good match with European and South African teams. 
After 20 years, there is still big gap between Japan and the world's most powerful teams like Brazil and Spain, and we are far from winning the World Cup. However, there is no doubt the Japanese team has gotten stronger and stronger.

We, as Japanese, are happy and proud to see our players who have succeeded in the world's top teams such as Kagawa at Manchester United, Nagatomo at F.C. Internazionale Milano, and also Honda who is rumored to be transferred to A.C. Milan.

At one point, the popularity of soccer had declined. Now, as the national team gets stronger, soccer is regaining its popularity once again. I hope to see great performances of Team Japan in the World Cup next year.