FIFA executive committee member Kozo Tashima was elected as the next Japan Football Association president on Sunday.
Tashima, the current vice president, won 40 of the 75 eligible votes in the JFA council while his opponent, general secretary Hiromi Hara, had 34. There was one blank vote in the JFA’s first-ever presidential election.
The 58-year-old Tashima will formally take office on March 27, when he replaces Kuniya Daini on a two-year term.
Tashima made it clear his responsibilities for FIFA will not interfere with his work for the JFA.
“I’ve had lots of questions about whether I can juggle the two jobs,” Tashima said during his unveiling as president elect. “Some people think that if you are on the FIFA executive committee, you live in Zurich. But you’re only actually there three, four times a year for meetings — when things are normal, that is.
“I’ve always prioritized JFA matters first and I think it’s a given that I do. I’ve skipped many FIFA or (Asian Football Confederation) meetings in the past.
“The benefit of being in the AFC or FIFA is that you receive information you would not get if you weren’t there and can be involved in the decision-making process. I can use the position to help improve Japanese football.
“The president does not need to decide everything and we should not aim to be that type of organization.”
A former technical director and general secretary, Tashima has steadily climbed through the ranks at the JFA and it appears he will remain as ambitious as ever.
“We want to host the FIFA Congress for our 100-year anniversary in 2021, the Women’s World Cup in 2023 and the Futsal World Cup in 2020,” Tashima said “Being at FIFA or the AFC makes lobbying for those events much easier because you can be heard.”
One of the issues Tashima hopes to tackle as president is the much-debated switch to a fall-spring J. League season, to coincide with the European season.
“I’m not specifically out to change the season but the fact is, the Olympics is coming to Japan in 2020 and the World Cup will be held in November 2022 in Qatar. If you think about preparing our national teams for those events, then switching to a fall-spring season is something that ought to be considered.
“But ultimately, the relevant committees will decide. We are not going to force anything from the top down. We have to strive to be a transparent association people enjoy working for.”
Hara said his position within the JFA beyond March is up in the air.
“The 34 votes means I had the support of a fair amount of people,” Hara said. “Until March, I carry on what I’m doing now but I can’t really comment on anything after that. I’ll have to see what the new establishment thinks and feels on the issues.”