J. League Division 1
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2010)|
|Number of teams||18|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||J. League Division 2|
|Domestic cup(s)||Yamazaki Nabisco Cup
Japanese Super Cup
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League|
|Current champions||Sanfrecce Hiroshima
|Most championships||Kashima Antlers (7 titles)|
|TV partners|| SKY PerfecTV!
|2013 J. League Division 1|
The J.League Division 1 (Jリーグ・ディビジョン1 J Rīgu Dibijon1 ) or J1 League (J1リーグ J1 Rīgu ) is the top division of Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ Nippon Puro Sakkā Rīgu ) and is the top professional association football league in Japan. It is one of the most successful leagues in Asian club football and the only league given top class 'A' ranking by the AFC. Currently, J.League Division 1 is the first level of the Japanese association football league system. The second tier is represented by J. League Division 2.
- For history of Japanese club association football before the inception of the professional league in 1993, see Japan Soccer League.
- For detailed history of J.League Division 2, see J. League Division 2#History.
Phases of J1
Before the professional league (—1992)
Before the inception of the J.League, the highest level of club football was the Japan Soccer League (JSL), which consisted of amateur clubs. Despite being well-attended during the boom of the late 60's and early 70's (when Japan's national team won the bronze Olympic medal at the 1968 games in Mexico), the JSL went into decline in the 80's, in general line with the deteriorating situation worldwide. Fans were few, the grounds were not of the highest quality, and the Japanese national team was not on a par with the Asian powerhouses. To raise the level of play domestically, to attempt to garner more fans, and to strengthen the national team, the Japan Football Association (JFA) decided to form a professional league.
The professional association football league, J.League was formed in 1992, with eight clubs drawn from the JSL First Division, one from the Second Division, and the newly formed Shimizu S-Pulse. At the same time, JSL changed its name and became the Japan Football League, a semi-professional league. Although the J.League did not officially launch until 1993, the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup competition was held between the ten clubs in 1992 to prepare for the inaugural season.
Inaugural season and J.League boom (1993–1995)
J.League officially kicked-off its first season with ten clubs on May 15, 1993 as Verdy Kawasaki (current, Tokyo Verdy) played host to Yokohama Marinos (current, Yokohama F. Marinos) at the Kasumigaoka National Stadium.
After the boom (1996–1999)
Despite the success in the first three years, in early 1996 the league attendance declined rapidly. In 1997 the average attendance was 10,131, compared to more than 19,000 in 1994.
Change of infrastructure and game formats (1999–2004)
The league's management finally realized that they were heading in the wrong direction. In order to solve the problem, the management came out with two solutions.
First, they announced the J. League Hundred Year Vision, in which they aim to make 100 professional association football clubs in the nation of Japan by 2092, the hundredth season. The league also encouraged the clubs to promote football or non-football related sports and health activities, to acquire local sponsorships, and to build good relationship with their hometowns at the grass-root level. The league believed that this will allow the clubs to bond with their respective cities and towns and get support from local government, companies, and citizens. In other words, clubs will be able to rely on the locals, rather than major national sponsors.
Second, the infrastructure of the league was heavily changed in 1999. The league acquired nine clubs from the semi-professional JFL and one club from J. League to create a two division system. The top flight became the J. League Division 1 (J1) with 16 clubs while J. League Division 2 (J2) was launched with ten clubs in 1999. The second-tier Japan Football League (former), now became third-tier Japan Football League.
Also, until 2004 (with the exception of 1996 season), the J1 season was divided into two. At the end of each full season, the champion from each half played a two-legged series to determine the overall season winner and runners-up. Júbilo Iwata in 2002, and Yokohama F. Marinos in 2003, won both "halves" of the respective seasons, thus eliminating the need for the playoff series. This was the part of the reason the league abolished the split-season system starting from 2005.
European League Format & AFC Champions League (2005–2008)
Since the 2005 season, J.League Division 1 consisted of 18 clubs (from 16 in 2004) and the season format became similar to the European club football. The number of relegated clubs also increased from 2 to 2.5, with the third-from-bottom club going into promotion/relegation playoffs with the third-placed J2 club. Since then, other than minor adjustments, the top flight has stayed consistent.
Japanese teams did not treat the Asian Champions League that seriously in the early years, in part due to the distances travelled and teams played. However, in the 2008 Champions League three Japanese sides made the quarter-finals.
However in the recent years, with inclusion of A-League in Eastern Asia, introduction of FIFA Club World Cup, and increased marketability in the Asian continent, both the league and the clubs paid more attention to Asian competition. For example, Kawasaki Frontale built up a notable fan base in Hong Kong, owing to their participation in the Asian Champions League during the 2007 season. Continuous effort led to the success of Urawa Red Diamonds in 2007 and Gamba Osaka in 2008. Thanks to excellent league management and competitiveness in Asian competition, the AFC awarded J.League the highest league ranking and a total of 4 slots starting from the 2009 season. The league took this as an opportunity to sell TV broadcasting rights to foreign countries, especially in Asia.
Also starting the 2008 season, Emperor's Cup Winner was allowed to participate in the upcoming Champions League season, rather than waiting a whole year (i.e. 2005 Emperor's Cup winner, Tokyo Verdy, participated in the 2007 ACL season, instead of the 2006 season). In order to fix this one-year lag issue, the 2007 Emperor's Cup winner, Kashima Antlers', turn was waived. Nonetheless, Kashima Antlers ended up participating in the 2009 ACL season by winning the J. League title in the 2008 season.
Modern phase (2009–2012)
Three major changes were seen starting in the 2009 season. First, starting this season, four clubs entered the AFC Champions League. Secondly, the number of relegation slots increased to three. Finally, the AFC Player slot was implemented starting this season. Each club will be allowed to have a total of four foreign players; however, one slot is reserved for a player that derives from an AFC country other than Japan.
Next season plans (2012—)
As a requirement of member in Asian Football Confederation. The J.League Club Licence regulations was started in 2012 as one criteria of whether a club was allowed to stay in their tier or promoting to a higher tier in professional level league. Other than that no major changes to J.League Division 1. The number of clubs will most likely stay at 18.
|Year||Important Events||# J Clubs||# ACL Clubs||Rele. Slots|
||18||2 + 1||2.5|
Stance in the Japanese football pyramid
|I||J.League Division 1 (J1)
|II||J. League Division 2 (J2)
|III||Japan Football League
|IV/V||9 Regional Leagues
|VI+||46 Prefectural Leagues
& 4 Block Leagues of Hokkaido
Since the inception of the second division in 1999, promotion and relegation follow a pattern similar to European leagues, where the two bottom clubs of J1 and the top two clubs of J2 are guaranteed to move. From 2004 to 2008 season, the third-placed J2 club entered Promotion/Relegation Series against the sixteenth-placed J1 club and the winner had right to play in the top flight in the following year. Starting 2009 season, top three J2 clubs receives J1 promotion by default in place of three bottom J1 clubs. However, promotion or right to play the now-defunct pro/rele series relies on the J2 clubs meeting the requirements for J1 franchise status set by the league. This has generally not been a hindrance, in fact, no club is yet to be denied promotion due to not meeting the J1 criteria.
Until 2004 season, the J1 season was divided into two halves, with an annual championship series involving the champions from each halves (with exception of the 1996 season). However, from 2005 season, the single-season format is adopted as the top flight was expanded to eighteen clubs. Currently, 18 clubs competes in double round robin, home and away. Starting 2008 season, the top three clubs, along with the Emperor's Cup winner receive ACL berths for the following season. If the Emperor's Cup winner happens to be one of the top three J1 finisher, the 4th-place club receives the final berth. Starting 2009 season, three bottom club are relegated to Division 2 at the end of the year.
League Format (2013)
Eighteen clubs will play in double round-robin (home and away) format, a total of 34 games each. A club receives 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, and 0 points for a loss. The clubs are ranked by points, and tie breakers are, in the following order:
- Goal differential
- Goals scored
- Head-to-head results
- Disciplinary points
A draw would be conducted, if necessary. However, if two clubs are tied for first place, both clubs will be declared as co-champions. The top three clubs will qualify to the following year's AFC Champions League, while the bottom three clubs will be relegated to J2.
- Prize Money (2011 figures)
- First Place: 200,000,000 Yen
- Second Place: 100,000,000 Yen
- Third Place: 80,000,000 Yen
- Fourth Place: 60,000,000 Yen
- Fifth Place: 40,000,000 Yen
- Six Place: 20,000,000 Yen
- Seventh Place: 10,000,000 Yen
Participating clubs (2013)
|Hometown(s)||First Season in
the Top Flight
|Current Spell in
the Top Flight
|Albirex Niigata||1999 (J2)||Niigata & Seiro, Niigata||2004||2004–||—|
|Shonan Bellmare||1994||Southcentral cities/town in Kanagawa||1972||2013–||1981|
|Cerezo Osaka||1995||Osaka, Osaka||1965||2010–||1980|
|F.C. Tokyo||1999 (J2)||Tokyo||2000||2012–||—|
|Júbilo Iwata||1994||Iwata, Shizuoka||1980||1994–||2002|
|Kashima Antlers||1993||Southwestern cities/towns of Ibaraki||1985||1993–||2009|
|Kashiwa Reysol||1995||Kashiwa, Chiba||1965||2011–||2011|
|Kawasaki Frontale||1999 (J2)||Kawasaki, Kanagawa||1977||2005–||—|
|Nagoya Grampus||1993||Nagoya, Aichi||1973||1990/91–||2010|
|Omiya Ardija||1999 (J2)||Saitama, Saitama||2005||2005–||—|
|Sagan Tosu||1999 (J2)||Tosu, Saga||2012||2012–||—|
|Sanfrecce Hiroshima||1993||Hiroshima, Hiroshima||1965||2009–||2012|
|Shimizu S-Pulse||1993||Shizuoka, Shizuoka||1993||1993–||—|
|Urawa Red Diamonds||1993||Saitama, Saitama||1965||2001–||2006|
|Oita Trinita||1999 (J2)||All cities/towns in Oita||2003||2013–||—|
|Vegalta Sendai||1999 (J2)||Sendai, Miyagi||2002||2010–||—|
|Ventforet Kofu||1999 (J2)||All cities/towns in Yamanashi||2006||2013–||—|
|Yokohama F. Marinos||1993||Yokohama & Yokosuka, Kanagawa||1979||1982–||2004|
Source for teams participating:
- Pink background denotes club was most recently promoted from J. League Division 2.
- "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J. League (Division 1 unless otherwise indicated).
- "First season in top flight", "Current spell in top flight" and "Last title" includes seasons in the old Japan Soccer League First Division.
|Hometown(s)||First Season in
the Top Flight
|Last Spell in
the Top Flight
|Avispa Fukuoka||1996||Fukuoka, Fukuoka||1996||2011||—||Division 2|
|Consadole Sapporo||1998||Sapporo, Hokkaidō||1989/90||2012||—||Division 2|
|Gamba Osaka||1993||Suita, Osaka||1986/87||1988/89–2012||2005||Division 2|
|JEF United Chiba||1993||Chiba & Ichihara, Chiba||1965||1965–2009||1985/86||Division 2|
|Kyoto Sanga F.C.||1996||Southwestern cities/towns in Kyoto||1996||2008–2010||—||Division 2|
|Montedio Yamagata||1999 (J2)||All cities/towns in Yamagata||2009||2009–2011||—||Division 2|
|Tokyo Verdy||1993||Tokyo||1978||2008||1994||Division 2|
|Vissel Kobe||1997||Kobe, Hyōgo||1997||2007–2012||—||Division 2|
|Yokohama F.C.||2001 (J2)||Yokohama, Kanagawa||2007||2007||—||Division 2|
|Yokohama Flügels||1993||Yokohama, Kanagawa||1985/86||1988/89–1998||—||Defunct|
- Grey background denotes club was most recently relegated to J. League Division 2.
- "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J. League (Division 1 unless otherwise indicated).
- "First season in top flight", "Last spell in top flight" and "Last title" includes seasons in the old Japan Soccer League First Division.
Division 1 Stadiums (2013)
Primary venues used in the J. League:
|Albirex Niigata||Kashima Antlers||Omiya Ardija||Cerezo Osaka||Shonan Bellmare||Yokohama F. Marinos|
|Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium||Kashima Soccer Stadium||NACK5 Stadium Omiya||Kincho Stadium||Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka||Nissan Stadium|
|Capacity: 42,300||Capacity: 40,728||Capacity: 15,300||Capacity: 20,500||Capacity: 18,500||Capacity: 72,370|
|Kawasaki Frontale||Oita Trinita||Nagoya Grampus||Júbilo Iwata||Urawa Red Diamonds||Kashiwa Reysol|
|Todoroki Athletics Stadium||Ōita Bank Dome||Mizuho Athletic Stadium||Yamaha Stadium||Saitama Stadium||Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium|
|Capacity: 26,000||Capacity: 40,000||Capacity: 27,000||Capacity: 16,893||Capacity: 63,700||Capacity: 15,900|
|Sagan Tosu||Sanfrecce Hiroshima||Shimizu S-Pulse||F.C. Tokyo||Vegalta Sendai||Ventforet Kofu|
|Tosu Stadium||Hiroshima Big Arch||Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira||Ajinomoto Stadium||Yurtec Stadium Sendai||Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium|
|Capacity: 24,490||Capacity: 50,000||Capacity: 20,339||Capacity: 50,100||Capacity: 19,694||Capacity: 17,000|
- Most successful clubs
|Club||Champions||Runners-Up||Winning Seasons||Runners-Up Seasons|
||1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009||1993, 1997|
||1997, 1999, 2002||1998, 2001, 2003|
|Yokohama F. Marinos||
||1995, 2003, 2004||2000, 2002|
|Urawa Red Diamonds||
||2006||2004, 2005, 2007|
||2006, 2008, 2009|
- The 1998 season
When the league introduced the two-division system in 1999, they also reduced number of Division 1 club from 18 to 16. At the end of 1998 season, they hosted the J. League Promotion Tournament to determine two relegating clubs.
- Split-season era (1999–2004)
Throughout 1999 to 2003 seasons, two bottom clubs were relegated to Division 2. To accommodate for split-season format, combined overall standings were used to determine the relegating clubs. This created a confusing situation, where for championship race stage standing were used, while overall standing was used for relegation survival.
At end of the 2004 season, Division 1 again expanded from 16 to 18 clubs. No clubs were relegated; however, last-placed (16th) club had to play Promotion/Relegation Series against 3rd placed club from J2. Again, to determined 16th placed club, overall standing was used instead of stage standing.
- Single season era (2005–present)
For the next four seasons, 2005 to 2008, the number of relegating club was increased to 2.5, with two clubs from each division being promoted and relegated directly, and two more (15th in J1 and 3rd in J2) playing in Promotion/Relegation Series.
Since 2009, the pro/rele series were abandoned and three teams will be relegated from and promoted to J1 by default.
|Year||15th Place||16th Place||17th Place||18th Place|
|1998||JEF United Ichihara||Consadole Sapporo||Vissel Kobe||Avispa Fukuoka|
|1999||Urawa Red Diamonds||Bellmare Hiratsuka||Only 16 clubs participated|
|2000||Kyoto Purple Sanga||Kawasaki Frontale|
|2001||Avispa Fukuoka||Cerezo Osaka|
|2002||Sanfrecce Hiroshima||Consadole Sapporo|
|2003||Vegalta Sendai||Kyoto Purple Sanga|
|2004||Cerezo Osaka||Kashiwa Reysol †|
|2005||Shimizu S-Pulse||Kashiwa Reysol ‡||Tokyo Verdy 1969||Vissel Kobe|
|2006||Ventforet Kofu||Avispa Fukuoka ‡||Cerezo Osaka||Kyoto Purple Sanga|
|2007||Omiya Ardija||Sanfrecce Hiroshima ‡||Ventforet Kofu||Yokohama F.C.|
|2008||JEF United Chiba||Júbilo Iwata †||Tokyo Verdy||Consadole Sapporo|
|2009||Montedio Yamagata||Kashiwa Reysol||Oita Trinita||JEF United Chiba|
|2010||Vissel Kobe||F.C. Tokyo||Kyoto Sanga F.C.||Shonan Bellmare|
|2011||Urawa Red Diamonds||Ventforet Kofu||Avispa Fukuoka||Montedio Yamagata|
|2012||Albirex Niigata||Vissel Kobe||Gamba Osaka||Consadole Sapporo|
- Domestic Tournaments
- Emperor's Cup (1921–present)
- JOMO All-Stars Soccer (1993–present)
- XEROX Super Cup (1994–present)
- Yamazaki Nabisco Cup (1992–present, excluding 1995)
- International Tournaments
- FIFA Club World Cup (2007–2008, 2011–2012)
- AFC Champions League (1969, 1986/87-2002/03, 2004–present)
- Suruga Bank Championship (2008–present)
- Defunct Tournament
- A3 Champions Cup (2003–2007)
- Pan-Pacific Championship (2008, 2009)
- Promotion/Relegation Series (2004–2008)
- Sanwa Bank Cup (1994–1997)
- Suntory Championship (1993–2004, excluding 1996)
J. League awards
- Manager of the Year Award
- Most Valuable Player Award
- Rookie of the Year Award
- The Best XI
- Top Scorer Award
J. League 20th Anniversary Team
Players and managers
- List of J-League players from AFC
- List of J-League players from CAF
- List of J-League players from CONCACAF
- List of J-League players from CONMEBOL
- List of J-League players from Japan
- List of J-League players from UEFA
In the Southeast Asia, the J. League is broadcast by Fox Sports
- J. League contracts
- J. League records
- Winning Eleven (Official video game)
- List of soccer games licensed by J. League
- List of J. League mascots
- Fußball im Land der aufgehenden Sonne - Die Entwicklung der japanischen Liga
- John Duerden (11 August 2008). "Asian Debate: Is Japan Becoming Asia's Leader?". Goal.com. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- "川崎Ｆが香港でブレーク中、生中継で火" (in Japanese). NikkanSports. March 8, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- "J1 League: Summary". Soccerway. Global Sports Media. Retrieved 19 August 2012.