The J.League’s new board of directors spoke to media representatives this week following confirmation of their appointments:
Mitsuru Murai (J.League Chairman)
The last two years have been about solidifying our footing. The first step was establishing our “Three Fair Plays” policy. It would be difficult to suddenly raise the J.League’s level to that of the rest of the world, but we were able to reaffirm our strengths through the concepts of competitive fair play, financial fair play, and social fair play.
On the footballing side, we announced our “Four Promises” for improving the game. Without the ability to immediately draw star players to the J.League, we have still sought to provide entertaining and fair football to our paying customers by introducing the +Quality Project.
I have further highlighted five important areas of strategy: football, digital media, stadiums, internationalisation, and talent cultivation. Progress in these fields will allow us to solidify the J.League’s place in the market.
Through these policies, we have determined three major plans: to fill in the gap between the J.League and the rest of the world, to determine the steps needed to do so, and to create a globally-aware J.League. Even as Japan’s men’s team has qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, we are keenly aware of the rapid pace at which global football is changing. We need a clear understanding of what is preventing us from catching up with the rest of the world and to change accordingly.
In order to accomplish this, former J.League manager and national team technical director Hiromi Hara has joined as vice-chairman. Urawa Reds president Keizo Fuchita and Sanfrecce Hiroshima president Hidekazu Orita have also joined the board. In terms of revenue and attendance, Urawa lead the J.League. I want them to serve as a model for other clubs. Mr. Orita played for Mazda SC before helping to strengthen the club for nearly 20 years. Hiroshima’s youth philosophy set the stage for their third-place finish in the Club World Cup, and I hope their success can be applied to the league.
Hiromi Hara (J.League Vice Chairman)
I want to help the J.League meet the current global standard by focusing our energies on improving our players and youth systems. In my seven years at the JFA, I have come to keenly understand that our national team cannot become stronger without raising the level of our domestic league. We’re looking at our academy systems with the goal of figuring out what they have to do in order to produce better players. I look forward to using my experiences and and meeting with officials across Japan in order to develop the J.League further.
Hidekazu Orita (President, Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
I retired as a player just before the launch of the J.League and have since been involved with Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the field of player development. Since then we have twice been relegated to the J2 and won three J1 League championships. I only became president of the club last February and still consider myself inexperienced, but as someone involved in player development and representing one of our region’s most important clubs, I can contribute to the J.League.
Keizo Fuchita (President, Urawa Reds)
I played football in high school, but I didn’t take care of my body and wasn’t committed as a player. My son tried to play football as well, but ended up playing American football. Two years ago, I became president of Urawa Reds. People may not know this, but I love this sport, and I want to use that passion to excite the league and Urawa Reds. We have been able to create a team that consistently earns good results, and economically we are ready to push forward with more ambitious investments. As the biggest club in the J.League, we’ll grow even more by supporting the J.League.