Accord Stadium, located in Sydney, Australia, is the 2nd largest stadium of the country, with a capacity of up to 80,000 fans. Next 20th of July, on the occasion of the opening match of the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup between Australia and Ireland, the stadium will be completely sold out. Women’s football is experiencing a global rise, as evidenced by the record-breaking transfers, attendances, and global television viewing figures in 2022.
Nadeshiko Japan, the women’s national football team, will embark on their World Cup journey on the 22nd of July against Zambia. After their glorious World Cup victory in 2011, when they defeated the United States and became the first Asian team to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Nadeshiko Japan struggled on the pitch, with defeats in the 2012 and 2015 finals against the U.S. team and failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. As the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup approaches in just over three weeks, Nadeshiko Japan faces an additional challenge: currently, Japan is the only major market without a broadcaster for the competition.
This is certainly not encouraging news for women’s football in Japan, and with wider implications for the role of women in the country. A recent report released by The World Economic Forum showed that Japan dropped to 125th place in gender equality rankings. Nadeshiko Japan themselves, during their participation in the four-team SheBelieves Cup in the United States last February, wore purple wristbands (symbolizing gender equality) to spread this message. However, the message never reached their home country, as there was no coverage of the matches at home. The only coverage was made by 2011 World Cup winner Nahomi Kawasumi, who provided live text coverage of the games through her Twitter account.
Last March, Adidas Japan unveiled the “Japan Women’s National Football Team 2023 Away Uniform” for use in the World Cup. The uniform is based on the concept of SUNRISE, symbolizing hope for the team to reclaim their position as world number one. Our hopes are that it will also represent a new dawn for increased recognition of women in Japan, with a real, permanent, full bloom for the Nadeshiko flower team and the message it brings.