Japan’s Nadeshiko

Yunogo Belle are the Japan Nadeshiko League Champions 2014 (First stage)

Week 18

Elfen Saitama 3 – 3 NTV Beleza

Saitama: 9’ & 59’ Rie Azami, 90’ Kanako Ito

NTV: 40’ Mizuho Sakaguchi, 67’ Yui Hasegawa, 75’ Yuka Momiki

Attendance: 621

Shots: Saitama 7 – 22 NTV

Corners: Saitama 0 – 11 NTV

JEF United Chiba 2 – 0 Vegalta Sendai

Chiba: 31’ Yuka Anzai, 56’ Yuika Sugasawa

Attendance: 1,189

Shots: Chiba 12 – 5 Sendai

Corners: Chiba 4 – 2 Sendai

Chiba won the big game and will play in the upper league. Sendai, in the lower league.

Kibi Univ. 0 – 7 Yunogo Belle

Yunogo: 7’ & 61’ & 64’ Aya Miyama, 22’ & 84’ Manami Nakano, 29’ Saori Arimachi, 32’ Miki Matsuoka

Attendance: 2,999

Shots: Kibi 2 – 19 Yunogo

Corners: Kibi 0 – 2 Yunogo

Urawa Reds 0 – 1 INAC Kobe

Kobe: 52’ Rika Masuya

Attendance: 5,126

Shots: Urawa 13 – 3 Kobe

Corners: Urawa 3 – 1 Kobe

Albirex Niigata 0 – 1 Iga Kunoichi

Iga: 9’ Saki Tsutsumi

Attendance: 881

Shots: Niigata 6 – 3 Iga

Corners: Niigata 5 – 2 Iga

Yunogo Belle wins the First Stage and a berth in the Mobcast Cup. They will start the Second Stage with 6 points. NTV Beleza is the runner-up and will have 5 points to start the Second Stage. Urawa Reds, with 4 points. Niigata, with 3. Kobe, with 2. Chiba, with 1.

Big Thank you to Ken Suzuki for the great match updates and results throughout the whole Nadeshiko season


  1. Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

    A major sport newspaper, Nikkan Sports, reports the Urawa vs. Kobe match played on Sunday. I translated the article most mechanically, word by word, to refrain from adding my own thoughts. But multiple websites are already full of angers and protests. To my knowledge, it is very, very rare that a newspaper questions refereeing like this.


    Urawa Reds lost a very close game and missed the championship of the Regular Series (first stage).

    Urawa had scoring opportunities from the start, but goal was beyond their reach. At the thirty-seventh minute, Michi Goto (24) kicked a shot by her right foot when she was in contact with the GK, Ayumi Kaihori (27), outside of penalty area. The ball hit Kaihori’s arm, or so it looked, but no handball was called. At the seventy-eighth minute Goto’s right foot kicked another shot which hit an arm of a defender in the penalty area, or so it looked. But no whistle was blown. When the final whistle was blown Urawa’s players fell on ground in tears.

    Urawa’s coach, Yasushi Yoshida, says he accepts all judgments by referees. Goto says, “a player is not supposed to discuss it” and refuses to talk further. Only the 5,126 supporters in the stadium made huge booing. The club says they will check the video and send a letter to the league.

    The Exciting Series (second stage) starts in late August and Urawa’s initial position will be the third. They still have chance.


    The game was not broadcast live, so I did not view it yet. It will be aired as a recorded video on Monday. So I translate and post the article above now rather than later because I may go mad, lose my mind after viewing what happened. If anything, it is unfortunate that the country’s best referees, including Sachiko Yamagishi who was elected the Asia’s best referee for three straight years, are now in Canada for the U20 cup…………….

    • WSU 7 years ago

      Thank you for the information and translation.
      I am intrigued to see how this develops and to get your thoughts after you are able to watch the match.
      It is so frustrating when official’s can unfairly influence an outcome of a match especially one with so much at stake.

      • Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

        OK, I watched the game. Both are outright handballs. In the second occasion Noguchi’s arm is wide apart from her body when the ball hit. The first case is even more outrageous. Kaihori’s arm is raised in front of her face when the ball hit. The only explanation I can think of how this can happen is that the goalie forgot she was out of the box. (I made an image file to post if it is allowed.) Another newspaper, Hochi, is less diplomatic than Nikkan I introduced yesterday. Their headline says, “URAWA LOSES TO WRONG JUDGMENT.”

        We all know soccer is a sport destined to have this problem. Field is too big and players run too fast to be watched by a single referee. And the rule (about foul and handball in particular) is too ambiguous. Quite often two movements equal in any physical sense are whistled and not whistled because a referee sees it as “intentional” and “not intentional.” As a result of this purely arbitrary judgment one goes to heaven and the other goes to hell.

        Is there anything we can do to get rid of this misery? I think there is. Use machine. Let computer judge everything. The latest image-processing technology should be good enough or, if not, will be shortly.

        There is an interesting report published by two Oxford researchers in 2013. (Highly technical. Don’t bother to read through.) It was written as a warning to people whose jobs might be taken by machines. Presented at the end of the report is a long list of professions sorted by how difficult/easy it is to replace it by computer. The “Computerisable Probability” is given with full scale of 1. The higher the index, the easier to be done by computer. The list starts on Page 57, and on Page 71, near the end of the list, “Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials” is placed with the probability of 0.98.


        I guess the authors wrote this in hope such replacement will not happen. It is a warning. HOWEVER, I do hope sports official is replaced. Runners and swimmers are timed by machine. Fencing is scored by electric signal. Why football should be any different?

        The TV showed all Urawa players were in tears after the match, and their supporters kept applauding them as well as booing and accusing the referees. Everyone can tell they are very, very angry.

        And so am I.

        • Gina West 7 years ago

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ken, I will take a look at the video footage soon.
          You can upload your image here: http://www.womenssoccerunited.com/groups/japans-nadeshiko-league/media/photo/ (There is an upload button on the right, next to options. If you have any problems just let me know)

          From what you have written it seems that it should have been an easy decision for the officials to make. I see no reason why a quick look at a video replay (if available) can not be done in order to give a fair and accurate decision. My heart goes out to the Urawa Reds players, staff and fans.

          They have started to introduce the goal-line technology for some of the major men’s competitions but this should be more universal. Only recently during the U-20 Women’s World Cup match was a player denied a goal which clearly went over the goal-line. Luckily a teammate scored on the rebound but what if they had not? The team may have suffered a defeat rather than the draw they earned.

          • Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

            I have just uploaded 2 images, both are the scene the ball hit Kaihori’s left arm (or Kaihori’s left arm hit the ball.)

            YES !!! I heard of the FIFA’s goal detection system. Perhaps, this is one of the best things that can happen to the entire world of football, a much better act by FIFA than penalizing poor Christine Sinclair who expressed candid opinion about wrong judgment. This is only a start, though. They should move on this right direction. It shouldn’t be difficult to develop image-processing system to recognize handball and offside. Detecting foul may be a bit more tricky. Still, human eye is no match for machine.

        • WSU 7 years ago

          Not sure if this will work but pasting your two images below (Ken Suzuki):

        • Gina West 7 years ago

          Thank you for sharing the images Ken, it is clearly handball and her arm is away from her body, so intentional or not it would have to be given seeing as Kaihori is out of her area.

          I think with all decisions to do with the ‘law’ of football, the officials need to be consistent with the guidelines they are given. There are so many matches where decisions are made by one ref that would not be made by another ref, and that is also frustrating. I know this can not be easy so I do not know why double checking the incident before making the decision can not be allowed.

          What do you think about introducing a system like what they use in tennis and cricket where the player/team/coach can challenge a decision and it is reviewed and then the decision is overruled if need be. Each team gets a certain number of challenges per match.

          • Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

            Unfortunately, I know very little about tennis and practically nothing about cricket. (I doubt I ever saw the latter in life.) If I’m not mistaken, though, players can challenge decision when the play stopped between rallies, right? But you can’t stop soccer play unless the referee whistles. Perhaps the next best alternative is to have three-party (referee and two coaches) meeting after a game for questioning and answering in which the referee is obliged to answer any question about judgment, then publish what was discussed in front of the world. It will not change any decision made in the finished game, but it will urge the referees to improve their skills until machine takes over.

          • Gina West 7 years ago

            Yes, (for cricket and tennis) it is always when the game has stopped play and allows the player to challenge a decision. Was the ball ‘out’ or ‘in’ for tennis, etc.

            I guess the only way it would work in football is if the game is left to naturally play on and then when the ball is next out of play, a challenge can be made?

            I completely agree with reviewing the finished game. Anyone who is purposely ‘cheating’ can receive a yellow, red or suspension after the actual match. I would like this in particular for the ‘cheating’ and ‘diving’ by players to purposely fool the officials to gain unfair advantage. It was during the recent men’s World Cup that reminded me how frustrating this kind of behavior is and although reviewing the game after full-time can not change the outcome, if players know that matches will be reviewed and they may face suspension for that kind of cheating then maybe they will think twice before doing it. Thankfully, this is not as common in the women’s game, but I have seen it from a few players and would not like this to increase.

    • Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

      Nadeshiko League posts a review of each game in their website. The report about the Urawa vs. Kobe was posted on Monday, and a third of the article discusses the controversial scene. Here I give my translation as well as the original in Japanese for anyone who knows the language to validate. The web location is:


      [About what happened]



      My translation:

      INAC Kobe’s GK, Ayumi Kaihori, jumped out the box and prevented a disaster by a very bold defense. But she made a movement to stretch her arm against a shot by Chinatsu Kira, causing commotion in the stadium.

      [About teams’ responses]



      My translation:

      Both coaches said after the game they accept the referee’s judgment that made such a huge impact on the game. Then each of them gave his personal view answering a reporter’s question.
      Urawa’s Yasushi Yoshida: “We obey the referee who was watching the scene at the nearest position. We lost because we are not good enough.”
      Kobe’s Koji Maeda: “What is important for the development of soccer is to take time to study a decision like this, is it not?”

      [League’s own opinion]



      My translation:

      The comments by the two coaches are precious words for the women’s soccer in future. What is most important is to make this incident an opportunity to improve skills, not one to make short-tempered accusation of referees.

      My (Ken’s) own opinion:

      I am appalled. The league does not even have the fact right. It was a shot by Michi Goto, not Chinatsu Kira, that was deflected on Kaihori’s arm. All too clear whoever wrote this did not watch the game either on site or in TV but only heard a corrupted secondhand (or third-hand) tale, and all because they do not even pay attention to this whole issue. They are very right to say we should make this an opportunity for improvement. But the first step of improvement is to get rid of the league management who shows such disregard to the Nadeshikos. (I strongly doubt they are saying this if it happened in a men’s game.)

      Now three days have passed but seeing this kind of trash uttered by the league I still feel my stomach is upturned.

      Someone posted a video.


  2. Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

    Please be careful. The Nadeshiko League champion is the winner of the Second Stage which Yunogo is not (yet.) First Stage is a sort of screening process except for the right to compete in the Mobcast Cup.

    But…..well, if Urawa Reds won the First Stage I would be sending every congratulation for their “championship” now………

    • WSU 7 years ago

      Thanks Ken, I have added (first stage) above to make it a bit clearer.

      It is a good achievement to win the first stage, it will be interesting to see if the form continues for the second stage.

      Is the new league system appearing to be popular and successful with the fans and teams so far?

    • Mia Mon 7 years ago

      Ken-san, can you explain again how the league works? what happens in the second stage or the exciting series? what happens to the teams eliminated in the first stage? they wait until next season? does the second stage lead to the Empress Cup? thanks

      • Ken Suzuki 7 years ago

        Simple. The 4 teams–Sendai, Saitama, Iga and Kibi–will compete in the lower league. 2 games (home & away) for each match-up, therefore 6 games for each team. Just like in the upper league each team will start with initial points decided by its position in the first stage. When the second stage ends the lowest team will be relegated automatically and the second from the bottom will compete in playoff with the second division’s runner-up to decide which will play in the top division next year. (Second division’s winner will join the top division automatically.)

        By the way I have added the schedule of upper league.


        The first week will see (what else?) Urawa Reds vs. INAC Kobe !! Everyone is welcome–except the same ref.

        • WSU 7 years ago

          Haha!! “Everyone is welcome–except the same ref.”

        • Mia Mon 7 years ago

          super thanks!!!! i also looked up your old post on the new system! thanks again 😀

  3. WSU 7 years ago

    Congratulations to Yunogo Belle, a very exciting conclusion to the first stage of the Nadeshiko League.

    Thank you Ken for all your updates and information.

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