At the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, which is taking place in Qatar, the Japanese national team picked 20 players from European leagues out of 26 entries. Eleven of them are playing in the so-called “big five leagues.”
On the other hand, the Korean national team includes 11 players from European leagues and has six players from the “big five leagues.” Considering that Japan convened only four players from overseas during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Japan has achieved great success in exporting its players abroad.랭크카지노
The European soccer community did not pay particular attention to the Asian market because of the successful players of both Korea and Japan, such as Park Ji-sung, Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Honda Keisuke, Tomiyasu Takehiro, and Kubo Takefusa. In other words, the European soccer community still has doubts rather than interests in the Asian market. Then, how did Japan get to actively send its players abroad.
Global sports media “The Athletic” analyzed Japan’s export development process and what Korea may miss in the process under the title “Why Korea, Postecoglou, and Japan are the markets with the best value in Asia” on the 19th (Korea time). The media cited “construction of a bridge through acquisition of a European soccer team” as a key factor in Japan’s many overseas expansion.
One should not forget Takayuki Tateishi, CEO of Shint Trauiden who served as head of the reinforcement division at FC Tokyo in the Japanese J-League. As Japanese capital took over the Belgian top team Shint Trauiden, where Lee Seung-woo played in the past, it became a forward base for Japanese national team players to advance into Europe.
“Takayuki successfully bought a team in the mid-tier European league by proposing to Keishi Kameyama, the CEO of DMM (a Japanese online mail order company),” The Athletic said. “DMM bought a 20 percent stake in Sint Trauiden in the Belgian league in the summer of 2017 and bought all of them the following year. The position of president of the team was given to Takayuki.”
Takayuki’s plan was a success. He has opened the door to Europe by recruiting Tomiyasu, Endo Wataru and Kamada Daichi, who currently play for Arsenal, Liverpool and SS Lazio, respectively. “Those three (successfully) helped spread the name of our team. Naturally, our team has become the home of Japanese players,” Takayuki told The Athletic.
Furthermore, Shint Trauiden has recruited talent without even having a scout in the J-League. The secret is his personal connection with the Japan Football Association and the J-League team manager. According to Takayuki, Shint Trauiden can confirm and recruit players’ skills through close cooperation with J13 and J2.
Eventually, as Japanese players flowed into the Belgian market, other teams in the Belgian league began to pay attention to Japan.
“Japan is a new market, but the price was good,” Tom Chambers, RWD Molenbeek recruiter of the same league, said in an interview with the media. “Each was a bargain at 500,000 euros (about 700 million won) to 1.5 million euros (about 2.1 billion won). I wanted to participate in such a deal.”
In addition, Anji Postecoglou, who is currently managing Tottenham Hotspur, is also a big contributor. He previously coached Yokohama F. Marinos in the J-League to win the league in 2019, and later moved on to Celtic in the Scottish first division, he successfully won five of the six national trophies in two seasons after recruiting six Japanese players.
Postecoglou once said he decided to recruit Japanese players after seeing Kaoru Mitoma in the J-League.
At that time, Mitoma was regarded as a top-rated player as he had just graduated from a university and played for Kawasaki Frontale in the J-League. According to The Athletic, Postecoglou confessed, “I didn’t even know who Mitoma was, but he completely shattered our team. At that moment, I thought, ‘What’s important about him that he didn’t go to college? Is there any college player that I can hold on to?'”
Postecoglou continued to show his affection for Japanese players. “After moving to Scotland, I thought, ‘I need to recruit three to four Japanese players. They are qualified to succeed.’ Back then, people asked me again if I was making such a radical judgment,” Postecoglou said. Of course, Postecoglou won the title by sweeping the league and competitions with six Japanese players during his two seasons at Celtic. This can be seen as an opportunity that opened the door for Japanese players thanks to Postecoglou’s emergence.
On the other hand, Korea has many obstacles to entering Europe. “Japan has the largest stake in the Asian market, and Korea is the second after that,” The Athletic said. “There are two factors that Korea cannot become a bigger market than Japan. One is annual salary, and the second is military service.”
According to media reports, K-League 1 pays much higher than J-League players on average. This means that K-League players are stumbling blocks when they want to buy players from Europe. Considering that Sint Trauidon was brought in cheaply and attracted attention from rival teams in the Belgian league, salaries cannot be ignored.
Military service issues cannot be ignored, either. A Korean adult male must return to Korea before the age of 26 in order to be obliged to serve in the national defense. Hence, it is regrettable that European teams are also forced to return players of their prime age to Korea.