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Games to be held

FOOTBALL Saitama Stadium2002

Summary of competitive sports

Football is one of the foremost popular sports in the world, and in many countries there are professional football leagues. A ball kicking game, the ancestry of football, originated in many places in the world though modern football (Association Football) was established in the present form in England in the 19th century.
In the Olympics, football has been played at every Games since Paris 1900, with the sole exception of Los Angeles 1932. From the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, women’s football was adopted as an official medal sport as well.
For the Paralympics, five-a-side football (players with impaired vision) is adopted as official medal sport.

History and current status of sports in Saitama Prefecture

In 1960, Saitama Prefectural Omiya Park Football Stadium (now: Saitama City Omiya Park Football Stadium) was constructed. This is the first dedicated football stadium in Japan and the oldest of the existing stadiums. This football stadium was used for the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 as football venue.
When the J league (Japan professional football league) was established in 1992, as one of the first 10 football clubs for the league, the Urawa Red Diamonds was created whose home field is Urawa City Saitama Prefecture (Now, Saitama city). The Urawa Red Diamonds was developed from its origin, a corporate football team established in 1950, and is a popular team which is renowned for its solid red uniforms under the nickname of “Reds”. On top of that, in 1998, the same J league football team, “Omiya Ardija” was established.
In the women’s football leagues, in the first league there is the Urawa Reds Ladies. In the second league, there is AS Elfen Saitama.
In 2002, for the FIFA world cup, exciting games were played in Saitama Stadium 2002. Building on the passion and emotions of this competition, aiming to further bolster the healthy development of youths as well as to promote international exchanges, the Saitama International Junior Football Tournament was held from 2003 until 2015. Since 2017, after undergoing alterations to become the Saitama International Football Festival, the competition now aims to deepen international relations as well as improve the competitive sporting abilities of today’s younger generations. New of professional football players have been emerging from among the young participants in these competitions. Saitama Prefecture is just really a “Football kingdom”.

Attraction of the sports

Football is a simple sport to play gaining goals by kicking a ball into the enemy’s net. An attraction of football is that everybody can play easily. If there are several people, one ball and some space, we can enjoy football. Of course, though the official rules define the players’ numbers, ball specification, size of field and others, even small children can easily understand the basic football rule that is, to get a goal by kicking a ball into the opponent’s goal net, and enjoy the game.
Playing football personally is a short cut for you to enjoy watching football games more and more. Once you have the experience of being a player, you can better understand the players’ plays while watching the game and you can enjoy the game more and more. Why don’t you pay more attention not only to the goal scene but also to the succession of play from getting a ball back from the opposing team and to the moment of a shot.
During the Olympic Games, top-level athletes will compete in women’s football events in a similar manner to the FIFA World Cup. In the men's football events, however, participant age restrictions have been put in place, meaning that, unlike the FIFA World Cup, only athletes aged 23 years or younger can take part in the competition. (A maximum of 3 team members over the age restriction are permitted to take part in events.) As a result of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the age restriction has been extended to participants aged 24 and under.
As for football, due to the irregular schedule, the football games will start prior to the Olympics opening ceremony. In addition, football games will be held in various stadiums dispersed around Japan.

Message from the sports organization of the Prefecture

In Saitama Prefecture, many children enjoy playing football. Boys’ dream is to wear the uniform of “Samurai Blue” and girls’ dream is to become a “Nadeshiko Japan” member and to play in Saitama Stadium in the future. There are many junior high school and high school, business men’s and also even senior generation teams, totaling 1691 teams and 60574 people registered as players who enjoy kicking a ball. This number is second among Japan prefectures (fiscal year 2015). To promote attention to football in the Prefecture, we expect that Japan’s teams will play successfully in the Olympic Games.