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Struggling Japanese women's league may not get boost

Japanese women's soccer faces the same problem women's soccer faces in the United States: the popularity of the national team, which won the 2011 Women's World Cup championship, and its players may not translate into success for the domestic women's league.

"The [Women's World Cup] boosted the brand value of Nadeshiko Japan, not the league teams," Munehiko Harada, a sports management expert at Waseda University. "So the league needs to know how to manage this Nadeshiko brand to create more business, and give back to the club teams and athletes."

Several women's pro clubs have folded in Japan in the last decade, and the Nadeshiko League averages only about 800 fans per match. Japan's economic problems have made it tough for the Nadeshiko League.

In 2010, popular NTV Beleza stopped paying its players, forcing national team forward Shinobu Ohno to move to INAC Kobe. "I feel like women's soccer is constantly subject to the economy," Ohno said. And Japan's economic problems may prevent women's clubs from capitalizing on the popularity of their national team stars.

"The league's struggling condition is the result of poor financial conditions of sponsoring Japanese firms," added Tama University professor Ichiro Hirose. "That won't change with the World Cup victory."

Read the whole story at Asahi Shinbum »

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