J. League

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The J. League (in Japanese: "Jリーグ", Officially "日本プロサッカーリーグ") is the top professional football league in Japan.


League History

J. League was created in 1992, though play did not begin until the following year, and initially consisted of 10 teams, taken from the original Japanese Soccer League formed in post-war Japan. The success of that inaugural season saw rapid expansion follow, with two teams joining the league nearly every year until 1998, when the league stood at 18 teams.

    • Kashima Antlers
    • Urawa Red Diamonds
    • JEF United Ichikawa (later Chiba JEF United Ichikawa)
    • Verdy Kawasaki (later Tokyo Verdy 1969)
    • Yokohama Marinos
    • Yokohama Flugels
      • (After 1998, these two teams merged into Yokohama F.Marinos)
    • Shimizu S-Pulse
    • Nagoya Grampus Eight
    • Ganba Osaka
    • Sanfreece Hiroshima
    • Jublio Iwata
    • Belmare Hiratsuka (later Shonan Belmare)
    • Kashiwa Reysol
    • Ceruso Osaka
    • Kyoto Purple Sanga
    • Avispa Fukuoka
    • Vissel Kobe
    • Consondale Sapporo

During this initial phase of J. League, several players and coaches came from Europe and South America to play, raising the overall quality of the league to rival that of the more established play overseas. However, with rising quality comes rising cost, and many of the smaller teams could not sustain a viable product. Many J. League teams folded or were on the verge of folding.

In response, the league was divided from the 1999 season. The bottom two teams from J. League were matched with 10 teams from the semi-professional Japan Football League(JFL) to create J2, or J. League Division 2. The requirements for maintaining a J2 franchise were not as stringent for those as the original J. League (now often called J1), and so smaller cities could successfully maintain a franchise.

  • With the merger of the two Yokohama franchises, J-League is reduced to 17 teams. Last-placed Consondale Sapporo is also dropped from the top division at this time and joins 9 new teams in J2.
    • Montedeo Yamagata
    • Vegalta Sendai
    • Omiya Ardija
    • Kawasaki Frontale
    • Ventforet Kofu
    • Sagan Tosu
    • FC Tokyo
    • Albirex Niigata
    • Oita Trinita
    • Mito Holyhock (J2)
    • FC Yokohama (J2)
    • THE SPA Kusatsu (J2)
    • Tokushima Vortis (J2)

League Structure

Promotion and relegation follow a pattern familiar to European club football, where the bottom team of J1 and the top team of J2 are guaranteed to move. The 2nd-last and 2nd-place clubs may also move, though this is not mandatory, and relies on the J2 team meeting the requirements for J1 franchise status, in terms of revenue and stadium capacity. This has generally not been a concern, so a 2-team promotion is the norm.

In 2005, the J. League expanded to 18 J1 teams once again, promoting the top two J2 teams automatically. A playoff was also held between the 16th place team in the J1 and the 3rd placed J2 team; however Kashiwa Reysol held their J1 position. The two teams lost to J1 were replaced by promotion of the top two teams from the JFL.

By 2007 a 3-division structure is intended, with 16 J1 and J2 teams, and up to 16 J3 teams (created from the JFL).

The Season

Until 2005, whe J1 season was divided into two halves, with a separate championship for each half. Each half was 15 games long, and each team played each other exactly once, with the home or away status reversed for the second half. When a single team won both half seasons (ie. posted the best record over each 15-game half), then that team was declared the overall champion of the J1. If different teams won each half, then a single playoff game between the half champions was held to determine the overall winner. In 2005 J1 moved to a single-season format, with each club playing the other twice.

J2 plays a single season of 44 games, each team meeting its rivals 4 times.

Also see Japanese Football League Teams.

Members in 2005 season

J. League Division 1

J. League Division 2

 Championship History

J.League Division 1

YearOverall Champion1st Stage2nd Stage
1993Verdy KawasakiKashima AntlersVerdy Kawasaki
1994Verdy KawasakiSanfreece HiroshimaVerdy Kawasaki
1995Yokohama MarinosYokohama MarinosVerdy Kawasaki
1996Kashima Antlers (Unified Season)
1997Jublio IwataKashima AntlersJublio Iwata
1998Kashima AntlersJublio IwataKashima Antlers
1999Jublio IwataJublio IwataShimizu S-Pulse
2000Kashima AntlersYokohama F.MarinosKashima Antlers
2001Kashima AntlersJublio IwataKashima Antlers
2002Jublio IwataJublio IwataJublio Iwata
2003Yokohama F.MarinosYokohama F.MarinosYokohama F.Marinos
2004Yokohama F.MarinosYokohama F.MarinosUrawa Red Diamonds

J.League Division 2

YearChampionRunner-Up3rd Place
1999Kawasaki FrontaleFC Tokyo
2000Consondale SapporoUrawa Red Diamonds
2001Kyoto Purple SangaVegalta Sendai
2002Oita TrinitaCeruso Osaka
2003Albirex NiigataSanfreece Hiroshima
2004Kawasaki FrontaleOmiya ArdijaAvispa Fukuoka

Famous Players

Former Players

Famous Coaches

Former Coaches

See also

External links

Template:Japan Professional Football League de:J. League fr:Championnat du Japon de football ja:日本プロサッカーリーグ


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