J.League Chairman Mitsuru Murai heaped praise on Club World Cup runners-up Kashima Antlers, saying they are an inspiration to Japanese teams.
The 2016 J.League champions made history as the first Japanese side to reach the final of the competition, and were only narrowly beaten 4-2 in the final by Real Madrid after extra time.
And Murai believes their feat means more J.League sides can aspire to be crowned world champions in the tournament on home soil.
“I would like to congratulate Kashima Antlers on your second-place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup,” the official said after the game.
“Even though you fell one step short, we are incredibly proud that a Japanese team made it to the match that determined the best out of 301,000 clubs around the world.
“Against European champions Real Madrid, Antlers played with great concentration and fought brilliantly to force extra time.
“This tournament was broadcast in roughly 180 countries, and now the world has seen the greatness of Kashima Antlers, the J.League, and Japanese football.
“Thank you for an effort that has inspired the Japanese football community, and for giving J.League teams a new goal: winning the FIFA Club World Cup.”