Thursday 16 May 2024, 02:00

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto aims for long-term success as president of Japan Football Association

  • Former Japan captain, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, installed as head of Japan Football Association

  • Miyamoto was appointed JFA president in March 2024

  • Japan is aiming to win the FIFA World Cup™ and increase revenue in long-term

When Tsuneyasu Miyamoto led out the Japanese national team in their opening FIFA World Cup 2002™ match against Belgium, he became the face of football across the nation. Now, 22 years later as president of Japan Football Association (JFA), Miyamoto is leading Japan’s charge to become a global footballing force.

As most former players elect to go into coaching or broadcasting following on-field retirement, Miyamoto’s career progression is an unusual one. But, motivated to see Japan one day win the FIFA World Cup™, Miyamoto was appointed the leader of JFA in March 2024.

Miyamoto needed little introduction to football fans in Japan having led the national team in two FIFA World Cups – including the 2002 edition co-hosted by Japan – and having a successful stint as head coach of Gamba Osaka, winning the J.League Manager of the Year in 2020.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto of Japan wins the tackle from Wesley Sonck of Belgium

Despite his on-field and managerial success, Miyamoto couldn’t help but feel he would make the most impact for Japanese football as part of the country’s football association and its a position he always felt he would take on.

“My long-term aim is to become a decision-maker in football. At some point in my life, I will be a decision-maker, which I knew, so it was my target after a professional career,” said Miyamoto.

Having reached heights few can dream of as a player, as a coach and now as an administrator, it may appear that success comes easy to Miyamoto, but the former defender did not cut any corners: doing his apprenticeship and taking steps to ensure he was ready.

One of the biggest steps was completing his FIFA Master course in 2013. FIFA Master is a sports management education programme that develops world-class administrators who can cope with the complex world of sport and football. It’s something which helped Miyamoto shift his perspective.

“Having different perspectives is very important to understand fully about things and to make good, important decisions,” said Miyamoto. “As a player, I thought that I understood football, but as a player, I could see football from this angle only. After the FIFA Master, I have a historical perspective and a managerial perspective and a legal perspective.”

His experience as a player, a coach and a graduate of FIFA Master gives Miyamoto a unique perspective which he believes can enhance the future of Japanese football. He hopes that more ex-professionals follow a similar pathway to his once they retire from playing.

Japan famously has a 50-year plan for football in the country, called the JFA Pledge, which outlines their goal of winning the FIFA World Cup in 2050.

In football it is easy to be short-sighted but with a strong foundation, an inspiring leader and the JFA Pledge, Japan is looking for long-term, sustained success.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto,coach of Gamba Osaka

“We are, in my opinion, on track for Japan to win a FIFA World Cup. Our national team is on track. Many Japanese players are now playing in Europe in top competitions,” said Miyamoto.

“But winning the FIFA World Cup is something different, so of course in order to be the champions, we need to raise good, talented young players continuously, and also we need to increase the number of players who are in European top clubs.”

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto at the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005

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