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New JFA President slams Japanese player attitudes

"It is said that Japan team's popularity graph has gone down after the 2006 FIFA World Cup and I feel it is because the players have lost their hungry spirit and aspiration to wear the national colours," the 66-year-old told

"Since the launch of Japan League 15 years ago, the players are good financially but they should know that some things like representing the country are not related to money," he said.

The former head of Asian champions Urawa Reds from 2002 to 2006, continued.

"The clubs used to give priority to the J-League only because the domestic schedule was tiring for players and it was difficult for them to sustain the financial burden of competing in a continental event.

"We (J-League and JFA) started a project to support the Japanese representative clubs in the AFC Champions League by arranging chartered flights for them for away games and re-scheduling their domestic matches.

The results of this project were instant and surprising as Urawa won the title in the first year of this project. We will continue to support our clubs in this manner".

From next season the J-League is planning to introduce a system of 'Asian berth' - under this plan, the teams can have one player from AFC member associations apart from their usual foreign quota of three.

"We are aiming to give opportunities to players from other Asian countries and think this could be an advantage for the Japanese clubs in the AFC Professional League starting next year," he said. "We will try to be a model and leading member association of Asia in all aspects including standard of football, spectators, development and administration," he said.

"I would like to urge the Asian fans to cheer our teams and players so that they can compete with European or South American teams," he concluded.

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