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Japan football chiefs neglecting women’s game, says former striker

Former striker Yuki Nagasato accused Japan’s football association of neglecting the women’s game ahead of this year’s World Cup after it failed to find a broadcaster for the SheBelieves Cup.

None of Japan’s games at the recent tournament in the United States were available for fans back home to watch live, five months before the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Asahi Shimbun daily reported that the Japan Football Association had been unable to find a broadcaster for the matches against the United States, Brazil and Canada.

Nagasato, part of the Japan team that won the Women’s World Cup in 2011, said the JFA’s efforts were “not good enough” and accused the association of failing to promote women’s football.

“We think that the lack of broadcast this time for the SheBelieves Cup is due to the fact that the federation has not done anything for 12 years to maintain or improve” women’s football in Japan, she wrote in English on her website.

“We’ve been seeing lack of promoting our game, and lack of setting up matches in Japan even though WE WON THE WORLD CUP.”

Japan beat the US to win the World Cup for a first time in 2011 and went on to finish runners-up at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup.

Their fortunes have since dwindled and Nagasato, who plays for Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League, pointed the finger at the JFA for their “lack of support”.

“We don’t want you to misunderstand, this is not only this time problem,” wrote the 35-year-old, who scored 58 goals in 132 games for Japan.

“Lack of many things has been building up, and this is the result of what they’ve done for us.”

In 2012, star player Homare Sawa slammed the JFA for booking the Japan women’s Olympic team into economy class while the men’s team flew business class.


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