The Japan Football Association thought it had found a straightforward path to building long-term momentum for women’s soccer in the country.

But after Monday’s decision to withdraw their candidacy to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the JFA’s “hop-skip-jump” strategy has suffered two crucial stumbles well before a ball has been kicked.

The road envisioned by JFA President Kozo Tashima and the rest of this team revolved around three milestone events.