J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai penned his New Year’s greetings to fans as he looks forward to an exciting new season.
The official took time to reflect on the successes of Japanese football in 2016, namely Kashima Antlers’ Club World Cup feat.
However, the official states he is looking forward to even better things in 2017, and believes fans can do the same as Japanese teams aim to break new ground.
“I want to wish everyone a happy new year and pray that this will be a terrific year for our football family,” Murai stated.
“The 2016 J.League season ended with MEIJI YASUDA J.League Championship winners Kashima Antlers becoming the first Asian representatives to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, causing the global community to take notice of Japanese club football.
“This result showed us that our goal of creating the world’s top club team is not as distant as some may think.
“The 2017 MEIJI YASUDA J.League season will open on February 25, with the J1 League returning to the single-stage format, the J2 League and its exciting battle for promotion and the J3 League welcoming newcomers Azul Claro Numazu.
“I hope we can bring you high-quality performances in every single match.
“This year, the J.League will continue to strive toward enabling our clubs to compete in the global football scene. In January the league will host its first-ever preseason competition in Asia, and a mid-season ‘summer break’ will see foreign clubs visit Japan.
“The recapturing of the AFC Champions League, which starts in February, remains an important goal. The J.League, JFA, and participating clubs will work together to make a Japanese club number one in Asia and the world.
“In its 25th edition, the J.League YBC Levain Cup will bring even more exciting moments this year with the introduction of a playoff stage and the emergence of players who could represent Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“This will mark a year of great change for the J.League, with our new broadcasting partners DAZN streaming every match from all three leagues. We are working hard to prepare content that fans will be able to enjoy throughout the season.
“At the same time, the league is endeavoring to create a solid foundation for member clubs to improve their administration and product on the pitch. We hope that one or two clubs will take advantage of this opportunity to lead the way and represent us all proudly.
“Thank you for your support of the J.League and our activities in 2017.”