The head of Japan’s professional women's soccer league says support for women’s sports still lags behind other countries, even as global interest is rising.

Haruna Takata, who chairs the two-year-old WE League, came into the spotlight recently when she floated an idea to start a crowdfunding campaign to fund the broadcast rights to avoid a TV blackout for the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

Public broadcaster NHK stepped in at the last minute to air Japan's group-stage games at the tournament, set to start in Australia and New Zealand on Thursday — though the first two matches will air on satellite channel NHK BS1. Takata said the saga helped raise awareness of the problems facing women’s soccer in Japan.