Podcast: Week 15 – The J-League

With Gamba Osaka claiming the Asian Champions League title last week Japanese football is on the rise and so on this week’s main report Damon takes a look at the J-League, the domestic league in Japan.

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Football truly is the world’s game. And a look at the success of the J-League is a great way to remember how vibrant the sport is in Asia. Here’s the J-League in numbers.

15 – The number of years the league has been running. Although the Japanese Football Association was created in 1921.

18 – The number of clubs in the expanded J-League. In 1993 the league started with ten clubs taking part. So the expansion to 18 would seem to reflect the growing popularity of football in Japan.

5 – This is the number of times Kashima Antlers, from Ibaraki a prefecture to the north of the metropolis of Tokyo, have won the Championship making them the most successful club in the short history of the J-League. Currently they are top of the league again and they may be able to win the title for the second time in a row. A feat they and Tokyo Verdi have achieved.

3 – There are three fixtures left in the season, with only three points seperating the top six teams. Also, three is the number of times that Urawa Reds from Saitama, again just north of Tokyo, have been runners up in the J-League. They are currently second, one point behind Kashima. They dropped to second last year in the last game of the season!

19,081 – The average attendance in 2007 of J-League matches. This is higher than 16 teams in the Championship (the second tier league) in England. Very similar to Reading’s 19,138.

21 – Goals scored by Marquinhos of Kashima, the leading goal scorer in J-League. Next is Davi of Sapporo with 14. I think the Golden Boot award is safely with Marquinhos.
22 – The planned number of clubs for J-league.

7- The number of teams that started in 1993 and still remain in the J-League. Kashima, Urawa, Shimizu, Kashiwa, Nagoya and Tokyo Verdi (then Verdy kawasaki), and also JEF Ichihara.

2- The number of tickets I have for this weekend’s game between Kawasaki and Osaka. Both clubs can win the title, but realistically, Kawasaki, at the moment fifth on 51 points, are the only ones in the hunt.

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