|Number of teams||88|
|Domestic cup(s)||Japanese Super Cup|
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League|
|Current champions||Urawa Red Diamonds |
|Most successful club(s)||Keio University (9 titles)|
|2019 Emperor's Cup|
The Emperor's Cup JFA All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament (天皇杯 JFA 全日本サッカー選手権大会 Tennōhai Jei Efu Ei Zen Nippon Sakkā Senshuken Taikai), commonly known as The Emperor's Cup (天皇杯 Tennōhai) or The Emperor's Cup Soccer (サッカー天皇杯 Sakkā Tennōhai), is a Japanese association football competition. It has the longest tradition of any football tournament in Japan, dating back to 1921, before the formation of the J.League, Japan Football League and their predecessor, Japan Soccer League. Before World War II, teams could qualify not only from Japan proper but also from Korea, Taiwan, and sometimes Manchukuo. The women's counterpart is the Empress's Cup.
As it is a competition to decide the "best football team in Japan", the cup is now open to every member club of the Japan Football Association, from J1 and J2 (J.League Divisions 1 and 2) down to teams from J3 (J3 League), JFL, regional leagues, and top college and high school teams from around the country. The Emperor's Cup is one of two well-known national football tournaments named after a monarch (the other is Spain's Copa del Rey).
The holder can wear a Yatagarasu emblem (the ordinary winner wears one, the E letter and the purple line above the bird, the league-cup double winner can wear the gold star and line above the Yatagarasu) and obtains an AFC Champions League spot for the next season.
Since the creation of the J.League in 1992, the professional teams have dominated the competition, although doubles, once common in the JSL, have become very rare. However, because the Emperor's Cup is contested in a knockout tournament format, the opportunity for "giant-killers" from the amateur ranks upsetting a top J.League squad is a very real possibility. For example, a major upset almost occurred in the 2003/04 competition, when Funabashi Municipal High School took the 2003 J.League champion Yokohama F. Marinos to a penalty shootout. Although Waseda University was the last non-league winner in 1966, and the previous non-top tier winner was in 2011 (contested by two second-tier teams, FC Tokyo and Kyoto Sanga, with FC Tokyo winning 4–2).
Since 1969, the Emperor's Cup final had traditionally been played on New Year's Day of the following year at the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and is regarded as the traditional closing match of the season. Since 2014, the venue has varied due to the National Olympic Stadium's renovation for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The 2014 Emperor's Cup final was not held on New Year's Day, but 13 December 2014, due to the Japanese National Team's involvement in 2015 AFC Asian Cup. The 2018 cup final was held on 9 December 2018. Although an official reason has not been given, it appeared to be the Japanese National Team's involvement in 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The first matches to qualify for the Emperor's cup begin anywhere from April to August of that year, and varies year to year. For the 97th Emperor's Cup (2017), the games were played from 22 April 2017 and ended with the final on 1 January 2018.
The knockout phase of the competition begins towards the end of the year. This phase is composed of all teams from J1 League (J1) and J2, the winners from each of the 47 prefectural championships (consist of amateur teams ranging from J3 League to college teams), and 1 organizer-nominated team among all amateur teams (this was assigned to the collegiate champion until 2011).
J1 teams, and sometimes J2 team(s) also receive bye(s) in the knockout phase. In 2016, all J1 teams and the previous year's J2 champions received a bye, and AFC Champions League participants received 3 byes. In 2017, all J1 and J2 teams received a bye. However, they lose home advantage starting from the third round, unless they are facing a higher-tier or higher ranked team.
From 1965 to 1970, the top 4 JSL clubs at the end of the season qualified for the Cup and the other four spaces allotted were taken by finalists from universities. From 1971 to 1994, as the League increased in size, the entire top division teams were entered automatically, while the second tier's member clubs participated in regional stages with other clubs. Beginning in 1995, the second tier clubs (at the time, the old Japan Football League) began to be admitted automatically instead of having to play regional stages, which in turn became prefectural stages.
Before 2008, 48 teams took part in the first two rounds – the winner from each of the 47 prefectural championships and the collegiate champion. The top team in the JFL standings and all thirteen J2 teams joined in the third round. Finally, the eighteen J1 teams joined in the fourth round, making a total of 80 participating teams.
The original All Japan Championship Tournament trophy was awarded to the JFA by the English Football Association in 1919. This trophy was used until January 1945, when the militarist government confiscated it and melted down to procure additional metal for the war effort. When the tournament was reinstated, the present trophy, showing the Imperial chrysanthemum seal began to be awarded.
In August 2011, the English FA presented its Japanese counterpart with a replica of the original trophy, made by London silversmiths Thomas Lyte. JFA President Junji Ogura expressed hope that the trophy, to be awarded at the 2011 final, would be "a symbol of peace".
Qualification to AFC Champions League
The cup winner qualifies for AFC Champions League (ACL) since 2001 tournament, where Shimizu S-Pulse qualified for the ACL 2002–03. Before the establishment of ACL, the cup winner also qualified for the Asian Cup Winners' Cup. From 2012, as a part of the requirement of AFC, the champion team must also hold a J1 Club License in order to enter the ACL (but not necessary to be a Division 1 team).
From the 2002–03 to 2008 ACL editions, the cup winner participated in the ACL that began one year later; for example, the Emperor's Cup winner for the 2005 season, crowned on 1 January 2006, participated in the 2007 tournament.
In November 2007, the JFA announced that the 2009 ACL spot would be given to the 2008 season's winner (crowned on 1 January 2009), not to the 2007 winner. As a result, the 2007 winner, Kashima Antlers, did not earn the 2009 ACL spot through the championship, qualifying for the 2008 edition instead. (However, Antlers earned the 2009 ACL spot by 2008 J.League Division 1 result.)
If the cup winner has already earned an AFC Champions League spot through finishing above third in J1 League, the spot obtained in the cup will be given to J1's fourth-placed team.
Past Emperor's Cup Champions
Top performing clubs
Other Emperor's Cups
The Emperor's Cup term is used for many national championships in other sports. Like the football prize, most of them are knockout tournaments, except for professional sumo where the trophy is awarded for winning a round-robin Grand Sumo Tournament.
- Judo – All-Japan Judo Championships
- Basketball – All Japan Basketball Championships
- Volleyball – Emperor's Cup and Empress's Cup All Japan Volleyball Championship
- Professional Sumo
- Amateur Sumo
- Soft Tennis
- Table Tennis
- Amateur Wrestling
- Track & Field (students only)
- Swimming (students only)
- "第97回天皇杯全日本サッカー選手権大会". JFA.jp. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
- "England replaces football trophy Japan melted down during Second World War". The Telegraph. 7 September 2011.
- "FA Gives Japan New Cup". Acumen. British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. October 2011.
- "F.A. Silver Cup to be presented to Emperor's Cup winners". Japan Football Association. 29 August 2011.
- "サッカー日本一を決める最大のトーナメント 第92回天皇杯全日本サッカー選手権大会、９月１日（土）いよいよ開幕！" [The largest tournament in Japan for the championship – The 92nd Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship begins on September 1!]. Japan Football Association. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.