Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Japan's powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI) is supporting the J.League's push to raise its presence in Asia, with financial support for three top-tier football clubs to promote themselves in different countries. Gamba Osaka, Kashiwa Reysol and Kawasaki Frontale are to get up to 25M yen ($250,000) each in assistance from METI to hold promotional activities in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, respectively. This will begin with football coaching sessions for children from August until the end of the year, in Jakarta by Gamba Osaka, in Bangkok by Kashiwa Reysol and in Ho Chi Minh City by Kawasaki Frontale. Kei Koyama from the J.League's Asia Office told SBD Global, "Up to two-thirds of expenses will be covered by METI as part of its Test Marketing program for overseas activities, though the details of which clubs will do what and where, are still being confirmed." METI is overseeing a Cool Japan Fund of public and private money that is set to rise to 100B yen ($1B), designed to promote all things Japanese overseas, from sport and entertainment to anime and music.

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY: The three clubs were founded by, and still sponsored and part-owned by, major electronics manufacturers, which will use the opportunity to push their products in the three emerging markets. Panasonic sponsors Gamba Osaka, Hitachi backs Kashiwa Reysol and Fujitsu is allied with Kawasaki Frontale. The J.League is struggling to expand at home, and is looking to tap into the high-growth economies of Southeast Asia for merchandising and broadcast rights revenue. Average attendances at J 1 games averaged more than 19,000 in the late 2000s, but have fallen back into the 17,000s range in the current decade. As well as a slowly shrinking population, Japanese football has been somewhat a victim of its own success as many of its best players have left to ply their trade in European leagues. Japan has also begun to export coaches, with Toshiya Miura taking over as the manager of the Vietnam national team in May. The appointment of Miura, who has previously managed six J.League teams, makes him the first Japanese coach of an overseas national team.
Gavin Blair is a writer in Tokyo.

With netball drawing bigger crowds than some National Rugby League games, administrators "are considering moving matches to bigger stadiums and changing the structure to keep more teams in contention for the finals," according to John Stensholt of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The moves, also designed to be more friendly for broadcasters, "come as the sport's flagship competition, the ANZ Championship, enters its final stages." Crowds across the 10-team competition "are up about 8 per cent compared with the 2013 season and television ratings have increased about 15 per cent." Trans-Tasman netball league GM Andy Crook said that the Australian teams "need to take more matches to larger stadiums." He said, "In order for us to keep growth and for the sport to go to the next level, we need to move to those bigger venues." Netball Australia and its New Zealand counterparts "are also negotiating a new broadcast deal with the contract incumbents SBS, Fox Sports Australia and Sky Sport in New Zealand." Crook "hoped a new deal could be signed within about two months, with next year's Netball World Cup in Sydney also part of the contract" (SMH, 6/11).

Israel Sports Minister Limor Livnat "has written to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to defend her country's travel restrictions on some Palestinian players on security grounds," according to the AP. The Palestine FA has urged the FIFA Congress "to suspend Israel from FIFA unless it lifts restrictions on Palestinian players." Blatter "tried to mediate the grievances during a trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank in late May." Livnat wrote to Blatter to say that Israel would allow Palestinian athletes to "exit and enter for the purpose of sports, excluding occasions in which there are attempts to make use of sports in order to injure or threaten the security of our citizens." The minister said that Israel "detained a Palestinian national team player, Sameh Maraabeh, in late April on suspicion he met with a 'military activist' of the Islamic militant group Hamas" (AP, 6/11). The JERUSALEM POST reported Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on Wednesday announced that "it had provided the IDF legal division with evidence to indict a Palestinian soccer player for alleged meetings with a Hamas terrorist in Qatar." The Shin Bet said that while in Qatar, Samah Fares Muhamed Marava "met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, part of Hamas' military wing." Marava "received money, a cellphone and written messages which Talal Sarim asked him to bring to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya" (JERUSALEM POST, 6/11).

The women's Bundesliga "set a new attendance record during the '13-14 season," according to SPORT1. The German Football Federation (DFB) "confirmed that an average of 1,185 spectators attended the games." The league's previous attendance record of an average of 1,121 fans was set in '11-12. The new record "represents a 6% increase." The final matchday "also set a new record." At total 17,620 fans "attended the 11 games on Sunday." The matchup between VfL Wolfsburg and FFC Frankfurt attracted 12,464 spectators and "set a new single-game attendance record." Wolfsburg defended its league title with a 2-1 win over Frankfurt. DFB Dir Heike Ullrich said, "This record season is a tremendous sign for the development of the women's Bundesliga and a fantastic signal for the upcoming season" (SPORT1, 6/10).