• Kyodo


Japan Football Association president Kozo Tashima wants to put an end to the running debate on the potential switch to a fall-spring season for the J. League.

A month has passed since Tashima beat former general secretary Hiromi Hara in the JFA’s first presidential election. Tashima has been lobbying to change the J. League’s existing spring-fall structure, to have it coincide with the European campaign.

Those who oppose the shift are the clubs based in areas subject to heavy snowfall. Those teams say they would struggle to hold games or train during the winter.

But one way or another, Tashima feels the discussion has gone on long enough and the time has come to make a decision.

“We’ve been debating this for more than 10 years, and it’s time we drew a conclusion,” Tashima, 58, said in an interview with Kyodo News. “It may not be the conclusion I want, but I don’t mind that.

“It’s important to get off to a fast start. As president, you have to pave the way for what you believe in. I have a responsibility.”

Tashima hasn’t wasted any time in shaking up the association’s upper echelon. The FIFA executive committee member has brought in Japan’s two-time World Cup coach Takeshi Okada as vice president and Akira Nishino, who holds the J. League record with 270 coaching wins, as technical director.

Tashima also fielded his secretary general from the private sector, naming former Dentsu man Kazumichi Iwagami for the job.

The focus for his initial two-year term will be on development, Tashima said, with an eye on a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics which Tokyo will host.

“First of all we need to figure out how to get the under-19s to win,” Tashima said. “We have to approach this with a sense of crisis. I hope we can win a gold medal in Tokyo. The onus is on us as hosts.

“We’re just not getting enough overseas experience at a young age. Through the national teams, we need the players to see the rest of the world and set the bar higher.”

He added: “Some might say strengthening the national team doesn’t lead to development, but that’s not true. If a player travels with the national team and goes back to his club, the experience will rub off on others.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.