In December 2012 the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Club World Cup was hosted in Japan for the sixth time. Featuring the continental champions of the six football confederations that make up FIFA, on this occasion Corinthians of Sao Paulo in Brazil convincingly beat Chelsea from London in England in the final (Conway, 2012). Since its inauguration in 2000, Japan has been host to the competition six times (out of nine) and Japanese corporations have been the main sponsors of the event, which is considered to be of huge value for the promotion of football in Japan. Two third places in 2007 and 2008 remain so far the best result of Japanese football clubs in the tournament. The idea of establishing a professional men’s football league in Japan during the 150-plus years of the game’s history received only a lukewarm reception until fairly recently. Although football has been played in the country for more than a century, it had never gained an adequate self-sustaining basis or attracted substantial audiences when compared with other soccer nations until just over 20 years ago (Horne and Bleakley, 2002, pp. 90-94). Only high school football had proved capable of drawing a comparatively large following, largely due to the spectators’ sentimental affiliations with their old schools rather than any real attraction of the game.
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