Japan announces inaugural women’s football pro league for 2021

Credit: Sho Tamura/AFLO/PA Images

The Japan Football Association (JFA) has revealed its first-ever professional women’s football league as the country looks to promote ‘female social participation’, enhancing the nation’s ‘diversities and choices’.

The Women Empowerment League, or WE League for short will officially kick off in autumn 2021 with the competition consisting of six to 10 professional teams. The league will also not feature promotion or relegation ‘for several years’ in order to strengthen and financially secure the clubs competing.

Tashima Kohzo, President of Japan Football Association stated: “The purpose of the launch of the new league is not just the development of women’s football in Japan. Our aim is to contribute to build a sustainable society through promoting female social participation and enhancing diversities and choices. 

“How we contribute to society through sports is an important mission for all of us in the sports world. We will work to establish the career of women’s professional footballers, which is the dream of many girls, and further promote women’s empowerment and solve social issues.”

The WE League’s creation has allowed the profession of “Professional Female Footballer” to be offered in Japanese society. Moreover coaches, referees, club management and the league administration will also be given opportunities to develop professional women’s football in the country. 

Japan’s new competition will officially be regarded as the step above the Nadeshiko League, which consists of three divisions and has helped grow the women’s football scene for over 30 years.

The teams participating in the inaugural tournament are expected to be announced later this year. Moreover, the JFA has stipulated that at least one executive per club must be a woman and within three years females must account for at least half the employees at each team.