June 3, 2020 / 12:34 PM / a month ago

Japan to launch new 'Women's Empowerment' top-flight league in 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Japan Football Association (JFA) announced plans on Wednesday for a new women’s club competition known as the WE League, with the acronym standing for ‘Women’s Empowerment’.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - Round of 16 - Netherlands v Japan - Roazhon Park, Rennes, France - June 25, 2019 Japan players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

The JFA, who are bidding to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, said the round robin competition will begin in autumn 2021 with the participating teams to be announced later this year.

There will be between 6-10 teams competing with no relegation from the top tier for ‘several years’ but there will be promotion from lower levels, the JFA added in a statement.

The WE League will become Japan’s top-flight, above the already established Nadeshiko League.

“The purpose of the launch of the new league is not just the development of women’s football in Japan,” JFA President Kozo Tashima said in a statement.

“Our aim is to contribute to build a sustainable society through promoting female social participation and enhancing diversities and choices.”

“How we contribute to the society through sports is an important mission for all of us in the sports world,” he added.

“We will work on to establish the career of women’s professional football, which is the dream of many girls, and further promote women’s empowerment and solve social issues.”

The JFA also stipulated that at least one executive per club must be a woman, while females must account for at least half the employees at each team within three years.

Japan is competing to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup against bids from Australia/New Zealand, Brazil and Colombia.

FIFA will announce the tournament hosts on June 25.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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