Women's football powerhouse INAC Kobe Leonessa recently took the surprising step of letting spectators decide how much to pay for tickets after a match.
Each paid a minimum of ¥100 ($0.67) under the club's "Shall We Pay?" campaign after it defeated Chifure AS Elfen Saitama 1-0 at home in a WE League Cup group-stage match on Sept. 10. The total each fan paid depended on their "level of satisfaction."
For the match, 1,298 spectators turned out, and ticket sales, including from advance tickets with set prices, came to ¥887,001. Ticket and merchandise sales totaled about ¥1.5 million, which was 1.5 times more than usual.
"I wanted to find out the appropriate price we should charge for tickets," said Takashi Yasumoto, president of the club.
One fan paid as much as ¥10,000, according to a club official. "I'll come to watch again when I get a chance," said a woman in her 60s, who paid ¥1,000 for her first women's football match at a stadium.
Compared with men's football in Japan, the women's game struggles to draw fans and turn a profit.
"The women's game has a different kind of appeal to the men's," said Kobe captain Mina Tanaka, one of several current and former internationals playing for the club. "We need to have people come see us first."
Kobe plans to run the campaign again.