|Full name||Vissel Kobe|
|Ground||Noevir Stadium Kobe|
|Website||Club home page|
Vissel Kobe (ヴィッセル神戸 Visseru Kōbe?) is a Japanese professional football club, currently playing in the J1 League. The team is located in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture. The home stadium is Kobe Wing Stadium, in Hyōgo-ku, though some home matches are played at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium in Suma-ku.
The club was founded in 1966 as the semi-professional Kawasaki Steel Soccer Club in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture. It was first promoted to the Japan Soccer League Division 2 in 1986, and stayed there until the JSL's folding in 1992.
In 1995, the city of Kobe reached an agreement with Kawasaki Steel, the parent company, to move the club to Kobe and compete for a spot in the professional J. League as Vissel Kobe. Vissel is a combination of the words "victory" and "vessel", in recognition of Kobe's history as a port city. (Owing to its importance to the city of Kobe, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, parent company of former team patron Kawasaki Steel, remains a Vissel Kobe sponsor. Kawasaki Steel was eventually sold off to become part of JFE Holdings.)
Vissel Kobe began play in 1995 in the Japan Football League, a league below J. League, and the supermarket chain Daiei was slated as the club's primary investor. However, the economic downturn following the Great Hanshin earthquake forced Daiei to pull out and the city of Kobe became responsible for operating the club.
Despite finishing 2nd in the JFL in 1996, Vissel was promoted to the J. League (the champions, Honda FC, refused to abandon their corporate ownership and become a professional club) and began play in the top division of Japanese football in 1997. However, due to mismanagement, including the inability to secure investors and sponsors, Vissel has never been a contender for the league title. In December, 2003, mounting financial losses forced the club to file for bankruptcy protection.
In January, 2004, Vissel was sold to Crimson Group, parent company of online merchant Rakuten, whose president is Kobe native Hiroshi Mikitani. So far, Mikitani's attempts to strengthen the team have met little success. Vissel's first signing under the Mikitani regime, İlhan Mansız, who was acquired partly to capitalize on his popularity during the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted in Korea and Japan, was a massive failure – the Turkish forward played just three matches before leaving the team because of a knee injury. Mikitani also alienated supporters by changing the team uniform colors from black and white stripes to crimson, after his Crimson Group and the color of his alma mater, Harvard Business School. (The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a baseball team also owned by Rakuten but based in Sendai, wear the same colors.)
Vissel finished 11th in the league in 2004, the same position as the previous year, and finished 18th and last place in 2005, resulting in automatic relegation from J. League Division 1, or J1, to J2. During the two-year span, Vissel had five different head coaches. 2006 was Vissel's first season in J2 after nine years in the top division of soccer in Japan. They finished 3rd in the 2006 season and were promoted to J1 after beating Avispa Fukuoka in the promotion/relegation play-offs.
During the period of 2007 to 2011 Vissel finished in the bottom half of the table each year. In 2012 they finished 16th, third from last, and were again relegated to J2.
In 2013 Vissel finished in second place, 4 points behind Gamba Osaka, which secured their return to J1 for the 2014 season.
On December 6, 2014, Rakuten Inc. bought the team from the Crimson Group.
Record as J. League member
|Season||Div.||Tms.||Pos.||Attendance/G||J. League Cup||Emperor's Cup|
|1997||J1||17||16||6,567||Group Stage||4th Round|
|1998||J1||18||17||7,686||Group Stage||3rd Round|
|1999||J1||16||10||7,691||1st Round||3rd Round|
|2001||J1||16||12||13,872||2nd Round||4th Round|
|2002||J1||16||14||10,467||Group Stage||3rd Round|
|2004||J1||16||11||15,735||Group Stage||4th Round|
|2005||J1||18||18||14,913||Group Stage||4th Round|
|2007||J1||18||10||12,460||Group Stage||5th Round|
|2008||J1||18||10||12,981||Group Stage||5th Round|
|2009||J1||18||14||13,068||Group Stage||4th Round|
|2010||J1||18||15||12,824||Group Stage||3rd Round|
|2011||J1||18||9||13,233||1st Round||3rd Round|
|2012||J1||18||16||14,638||Group Stage||2nd Round|
- Tms. = Number of teams
- Pos. = Position in league
- Attendance/G = Average league attendance
- Chugoku Soccer League: 1978–85 (as Kawasaki Steel Mizushima)
- Division 2 (Japan Soccer League Div. 2): 1986–91 (Kawasaki Steel Mizushima until 1987; Kawasaki Steel afterwards)
- Division 3 (Old JFL Div. 2): 1992–93 (as Kawasaki Steel)
- Division 2 (Old JFL): 1994–96 (Kawasaki Steel 1994; Vissel Kobe since 1995)
- Division 1 (J. League): 1997–05
- Division 2 (J. League Division 2): 2006
- Division 1 (J. League Division 1): 2007–12
- Division 2 (J. League Division 2): 2013
- Division 1 (J. League Division 1): 2014–
Total (as of 2014): 16 seasons in the top tier, 11 seasons in the second tier, 2 seasons in the third tier and 8 seasons in the Regional Leagues.
In popular culture
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Hiroshi Matsuda||Japan||Jan 2002–Dec 02|
|Ivan Hašek||Czech Republic||Jan 2003–Dec 04|
|Hideki Matsunaga||Japan||Jan 2005–April 05|
|Émerson Leão||Brazil||May 2005–June 05|
|Pavel Řehák||Czech Republic||2005|
|Stuart Baxter||Scotland||Jan 2006–Dec 06|
|Hiroshi Matsuda||Japan||Jan 2007–Dec 08|
|Caio Júnior||Brazil||Dec 2008–June 09|
|Masahiro Wada (interim)||Japan||July 2009–Aug 09|
|Toshiya Miura||Japan||Aug 2009–Sept 10|
|Masahiro Wada||Japan||Sept 2010–April 12|
|Ryo Adachi (interim)||Japan||April 2012–May 12|
|Akira Nishino||Japan||May 22, 2012 – Nov 8, 2012|
|Ryo Adachi (interim)||Japan||Nov 9, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012|
|Ryo Adachi||Japan||Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 11, 2014|
|Nelsinho Baptista||Brazil||Dec 12, 2014–|
- Ｊリーグ – ヴィッセル神戸 [J. League – Vissel Kobe] (in Japanese). J. League. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- "Rakuten Acquires Football Club Vissel Kobe and Joins the J-League". Rakuten Official Website.
- "J-League's Vissel Kobe announces business partnership with Thailand's Chonburi FC". goal.com. Mar 30, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
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