TOKYO: Japan stages the Club World Cup tomorrow/Sunday for the last time under the event’s present schedule – Chelsea playing Corinthians in Yokohama – with the country’s potential as a venue for more international events enhanced.

A bid to host the 2022 World Cup failed but FIFA president Sepp Blatter encouraged the Japanese Football Association to think seriously about pursuing the 2019 Women’s World Cup with his praise of football in the land of rising sun.

Acknowledging the enormous strides Japan has made since the launch of the J.League, Blatter said: “Congratulations to the famous J.League on its 20th anniversary; 20 years ago the J.League was looking to bring in players from all around the world, even Swiss players, and nowadays the J.League has such a standard that players from Japan play in the big leagues in Europe – in Germany, in England.

“The effort they have made here to develop football not only at the top but at all the different levels – youth and women’s football – [means now they] are reigning world champions in women’s football and won silver at the Olympic Games. Also, the Japanese national team will play next year in the Confederations Cup because they are reigning champions of Asia and will have the honour and responsibility to play the opening match in Brasilia against Brazil next June.”

As for the future, Blatter recognised Japan’s sporting ambitions in plans to build a new national stadium.

He said: “A new national stadium would be another big factor which can serve international football and its competitions and it is absolutely understandable that Japan, the reigning world champions in women’s football, would like to organise the FIFA women’s world cup: the next possibility would be in 2019 because 2015 will be in Canada.

“I can only compliment football in Japan.”

Goal line technology has been used at the Club World Cup for the first time with the camera-based Hawkeye system operating Toyota and the Danish/German GoalRed system in Yokohama.

Blatter reiterated comments in Sao Paulo two weeks that an analysis of the GLT at the Club World Cup would decide which system should be used at the Confederations Cup next June in Brazil.

As for the Club World Cup, that will move on, next year, to Morocco.


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