The Hyundai A-League and Japanese J-League have today signed an historic co-operation agreement that will see the two nations share technical, marketing and administrative expertise.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will pave the way for matches at elite youth level between Australian and Japanese clubs and encourage loan deals between the leagues.
The agreement will see joint marketing and promotion of AFC Champions League matches featuring Japanese and Australian clubs.
The co-operation includes a strong commitment to use sports diplomacy to build on the relationship between the governments of Australia and Japan, including the business, expatriate and multicultural communities.
A delegation from the J-League arrived in Australia on Saturday for a series of meetings and discussions, while they also attended the Hyundai A-League 2016 Grand Final in Adelaide.
The MOU also confirms the continuation of a referee exchange program between the two leagues which has been occurring over the past two years.
“This deal brings two of Asia’s top football nations closer in a very meaningful way that will not just build relationships, but will have an impact on football development,” said FFA CEO David Gallop.
“The J-League and A-League are setting benchmarks in Asia and this is an opportunity to drive each other to even greater heights.
“This aligns with our strategy to drive commercial revenues and audience growth in the A-League and build future generations of successful national teams.”
Managing Director of the J-League, Mr Daisuke Nakanishi, said the J-League shared a number of similarities with the Hyundai A-League, both in terms of visions and aspirations.
“Since last year, we had a number of meetings with Football Federation Australia and found that we have similar environment and visions,” said Nakanishi.
“Both the J-League and the A-League are still young and developing and we are both aiming to be world class competitions.
“Another note is Australia’s sporting culture. We found sometime after the 2000 Sydney Olympics that the sports industry had gradually grown and government policies on sports became very supportive.
“We will host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and it is our idea to benchmark FFA and the A-League, how they developed since their establishment, especially the cooperation with the government.
“I am so excited to commence this partnership and hopefully one day, two teams from Asia, Australia and Japan will meet in the World Cup Final.”
The three day trip will also see the J-League delegates attend Tuesday night’s AFC Champions League encounter between Melbourne Victory and Gamba Osaka, as well as visit the Japanese Embassy in Canberra and the Department of Sport & Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.