• Kyodo

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Teams taking part in Japan’s new women’s professional soccer league, that is scheduled to begin play in 2021, will be required to have at least one female executive, sources knowledgeable about the plan said Friday.

The Japan Football Association last year decided to create the league, hopefully as a six-to-10-team upper division, with the existing Nadeshiko League continuing on as an amateur competition.

Within three years, teams will be required to have women in at least half of their staff posts. Also, women with years of service playing for Nadeshiko Japan, the country’s national team, may be recruited to fill posts in the league hierarchy.

Although the Nadeshiko League will continue to follow the men’s J. League schedule and start in the spring, the new women’s league will follow the European soccer calendar. The inaugural season is set to run from September 2021 to May 2022. Each team must have a minimum of five players on A contracts with no limits on maximum salaries, and at least 10 players on B and C contracts which come with salary constraints.

The teams names will include the name of their city or region but can have corporate names as well. There is no plan for relegation to the Nadeshiko League for the time being.

Ideally, the teams will operate on budgets of around ¥450 million ($4.1 million). However, only one current Nadeshiko League team, INAC Kobe Leonessa, whose players are primarily employed as athletes, appears to have resources in that range. The average budget for a first-division Nadeshiko League team is between ¥100 and ¥200 million, making it questionable that all the clubs will be able to achieve the proposed guidelines.

However, participation in the new league will not be limited to teams currently competing in the Nadeshiko League. The league’s parent company will be established in April, and the inaugural teams are expected to be announced this summer after a review process.