Created: Monday, 04 January 2021 Written by Alan Gibson

Three Signs That J.League is Growing Worldwide

The J.League has already demonstrated (in matches such as Kashima's 2-2 regular-time draw with Real Madrid in the 2018 Club World Cup) that they can be competitive on the pitch. Now the league is trying to boost its profile worldwide

Since its creation, in 1994, the J.League has been working hard to create a football "brand" that can compete with other leagues around the world. Many recent developments have shown that these efforts are bearing fruit. Although domestic figures suggest that the J.League's popularity has levelled off in Japan, over the past few seasons, efforts to promote the league overseas are starting to attract a new potential fan base. Here are some of the factors that have earned Japanese football a higher international profile.

toto - the Soccer Lottery 

Ever since it was introduced, Japan's government-run football lottery, known as "TOTO", has been constantly gaining customers. Recently, Statista predicted that it is worth 93.8 billion Japanese yen when combined with the national lottery, which is an increase of almost 10 billion yen over the last decade.

The Japan Times highlights how the growing popularity of this lottery. There are around 6,000 lottery outlets nationwide that offer the lottery tickets. In addition, offers and bonuses on overseas betting sights such as CasinoWings are a testament to the expansion of wagering interest in the J.League as a whole. The site lists a variety of online casinos, with the majority boasting expansive sports betting markets across international games. After all, the betting market must be in good shape to provide hundreds of yen in cash-back and deposits to new customers. 

The Arrival of Andres Iniesta 

Every league needs a marquee signing to prove that it means business, and Andres Iniesta is to the J.League what Lionel Messi is to La Liga and Cristiano Ronaldo is to Serie A. The former Barcelona legend arrived in Japan in the summer of 2018 and has never looked back. Although no longer at his imperious best, Iniesta's final seasons at Barca proved he still has the guile and intelligence to make it in Europe. Therefore, when "The Magician" decided on Vissel Kobe, it was a game changer for the J.League. For instance, Vissel was the first team in Japanese football history to record operating profits of more than 10 billion yen, dwarfing the $30 million the club pay him in wages reported by Sky Sports

Audience Abroad 

The J.League has of course modeled itself on other leagues, using the platform as a road map for branding and advertising purposes. The league has been upping its digital presence markedly, posting on most social media sites in a bid to raise brand awareness. However, the Japan Times reports none of the content was in English, until this summer. The J.League has since dramatically increased its English content output, enabling it to appeal to a broader range of audiences. The fact that the J.League has invested in a global team to handle its overseas marketing shows it believes the perception of the competition in Japan and abroad is very positive. 

Hopefully, they are right, because all the hard work that has been done to propel the competition forward in recent years should not go to waste.

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