Japan football history

In its early days, football was associated to 'kemari' - an ancient Japanese ball game connected with the Shinto religion. Japanese fans stood bemused as they witnessed the birth of football in September 1873 when British naval officer, Archibald Douglas organized a game with his men.

In 1888, Japan saw its first competitive game as Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club took on the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club, a rivalry that continues to the present day.

As football reaches the public, the Japan Football Association was formed in 1921. Their first impact on the world stage was at the Berlin Olympics where a group of college students represented Japan to mark their entry into world football.

In the 1960s football became more popular and better organised. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics and again Japan entered a team. This time they progressed to the last eight, where they were beaten by Argentina.

Japan's best moments were to come in the 1968 Mexico Olympics where they won a bronze medal. Their historic second round appearance in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan was another feather in the cap. (Source: Asian Football Federation)


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