J-LEAGUE'S VISSEL KOBE ANNOUNCES BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP WITH THAILAND'S CHONBURI FC
by Dan Orlowitz
J-League Division 1 side Vissel Kobe on Thursday announced a business partnership between the club and Thai Premier League outfit Chonburi FC.
The historic deal is the latest move in the J-League's expansion into South-Aast Asia; earlier this year the league sold broadcasting rights to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
"As a team with an eye on expanding not just within Japan but around the world, we feel that by joining with a rapidly-developing Asian club we can help each other grow," Vissel president Koichi Kanaya said in a joint statement.
"Both of our clubs are eager to create new enterprises, and we're looking forward to being able to exchange ideas and information."
The deal will facilitate player and staff exchanges both at the professional and youth level, as well as friendly matches, the creation of new football schools, and marketing opportunities.
"We have for many years been strongly committed to 'development' at all levels of the club," wrote Chonburi FC chairman Wittaya Khunpluem in the announcement. "This is a new beginning for our club's history.
"We're incredibly happy to have partnered with a high-level club like Vissel Kobe, and I hope that we can use our relationship to raise the quality of our matches and personnel."
Courtesy of www.goal.com
GAMBA OSAKA 2-4 VISSEL KOBE
EXPO PARK STADIUM, OSAKA
by Paul Martin
In October I was lucky enough to be able to go to Japan to visit my Newcastle United supporting Uncle Keith, who has been living there for 16 years. We spent the majority of the time in Okinawa, where Keith lives. Okinawa is a small island to the south of Japan, and it is a great place to visit. During our time there we snorkeled, saw waterfalls and rain forests, and it’s also 30o C in October, so it’s easy to see why Keith found it more appealing than the chill of Whitley Bay!
If you ever get the chance to go to Okinawa, take it, I can assure you you won’t regret it! The last three days of my holiday were spent in Japan’s ‘second city’ Osaka, which is full of the bright lights for which Japanese cities are famous, and it is also near the city of Kyoto, which is also recommended, particularly for temple lovers!
Saturday afternoon was soon upon us, so it was time for me to go and see some football. Fortunately, a friend of my Uncle’s, Akira, offered to take me to the match between Gamba Osaka and Vissel Kobe, and it was an off er I couldn’t refuse! Akira turned up wearing his black and white striped Vissel Kobe shirt, and as soon as I saw the colours – the same as Newcastle United – my support for the afternoon was decided.
The J.League Division 1 is made up of 18 teams, of which four, including Gamba Osaka and Vissel Kobe, are from the Kansai district. This made the match a local derby of sorts, however Akira warned me not to expect the intensity or atmosphere of a British derby. Gamba were clear favourites for the game, as they were 3rd and still in with an outside chance of winning the league. They are also one of the richest clubs in Japan, and they are (allegedly) disliked across the land due to their reputation for poaching other, less successful clubs’ top players. Kobe, on the other hand, were stuck in the relegation zone, and had recently lost 3-0 away to the league’s bottom side.
Because of this, Akira was not exactly full of hope about his team’s chances, and he was, luckily for me, more than happy to talk about English football. He follows Norwich City (due to his English father’s infl uence), however he knew about far more than just Norwich and it surprised me to hear that Titus Bramble’s comic lack of ability is even laughed about in Japan!
Gamba’s ground, the Expo Park Stadium, is conveniently placed right next to a monorail station and we were soon inside the 21,000+ capacity ground. We were seated by the corner fl ag next to the loud Kobe supporters. I soon realised that the ‘Ultra’ supporters of both clubs were (safely) standing behind the goals; however the chanting is very diff erent to the English game. There were two men stood facing the Kobe fans with megaphones, and as soon as one song fi nished, they would start another one and the fans would join in. I thought this was just to get the supporters geed up before the match, however it continued throughout the game. This meant that, despite Akira’s warnings, there was a cracking atmosphere as the game kicked off .
The match itself was a belter. Gamba took the lead on 22 minutes when their 17-year-old wonder kid Takashi Usami gave them the lead with a lovely fi nish into the top corner. Akira was fearing the worst at this point, but Kobe came back into it and got a deserved equaliser through Takayuki Yoshida. However, they shot themselves in the foot just five minutes later, conceding a sloppy goal as Gamba went in 2-1 up at half time.
The second half got off to a fl ying start as Kobe equalised just a minute after the restart with a thumping header from Kobe’s old school bruiser of a centre half. Just ten minutes later Vissel finally took the lead through a 17-year-old wonder kid of their own and an upset was on the cards.
There were some hairy moments over the next half an hour, but the Kobe keeper was in inspired form and made at least three top quality saves as Gamba piled on the pressure. Two more shots were cleared off the line and I was expecting an equaliser, but in stoppage time Kobe went up on the break and their Brazilian no.10, Botti, who was outstanding all game, stuck the ball in the net to make it 4-2. Akira was going wild, as were over 1,000 other Kobe fans, and Akira later explained that the result was headline news in Japan and a famous result for Kobe.
It was a great end to a fantastic holiday, and I was even back in Britain in time to listen to Newcastle United’s 5-1 demolition of local rivals Sunderland on the radio on the drive home! Magic!
This article first appeared in the Summer 2011 edition of JSoccer magazine : www.jsoccer.com
Jay Skerly is the webmaster of the Vissel Kobe English language site. I recently caught up with him and asked for some background information on our new partners and for his opinions on the deal. Here's what he had to say:
Q – Please could you introduce yourself.
A – My name is Jay and I’m originally from Australia. I’m 39 years old and I’ve been living in Japan for almost 20 years – about half of my life.
Q – How long have you been in Kobe?
A – I’ve been in Kobe for most of my time in Japan – almost 20 years.
Q – What first brought you to Kobe?
A – I first came to Japan as a university student in Shizuoka prefecture, but soon found my way down to Kobe as it was recommended by several friends as a great place to live.
Q - Please can you tell us a bit about the city
A – Kobe is a port city in the Kansai region of Japan with a population of about 1.5 million (6th largest in Japan). It is known as one of the most picturesque cities in the country due to its location between the mountains and the sea. A walk around the modern, cosmopolitan city center makes it hard to believe that much of Kobe was destroyed in 1995 by the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Kobe people have a strong identity and often see themselves as different from people in Osaka, the major city located just a 30-minute train ride away.
Q – How long have you been supporting Vissel Kobe FC?
A – I have been a Vissel Kobe fan since the club entered the J.League in 1997, and a regular season ticket holder since 2005.
Q – What have been the highlights of your time supporting Vissel Kobe?
A – Achieving promotion back to the top flight at the end of 2006 after being relegated the year before, moving to the new stadium after the World Cup and all of the victories against our arch rivals Gamba Osaka.
Q – Please can you tell us a little about your club
A – Akira Nishino has just been appointed the new manager of Vissel. He is one of the most decorated managers in J.League history having been in charge of Gamba for 10 years. In the current squad, our best players are Yoshito Okubo, Masahiko Inoha and Takuya Nozawa, all of whom have played for the national team. The club legend is Kunie Kitamoto, our skinhead defender who has been at Vissel his entire career, most of the time as first choice center back.
Q – Are there any of your players who you don’t think are good enough for the J-League but would flourish is the TPL?
A – If it is right to assume that the TPL is of a lower standard than the J.League, there are plenty of players that could benefit from more playing time, particularly the younger ones.
Q – What are your thoughts on the way your club is run?
A – In the past, many fans were frustrated at the unrealistic goals set by the club. But this year, our new signings suggest that we are serious about reaching the ACL.
Q – What would you like to see done differently?
A – If I were the owner of Vissel Kobe, the first thing I would do is to subsidize trips to away matches so that we can have a bigger fan presence away from home.
Q – Realistically, what are the short term and long term goals for your club?
A – We have a rich owner who finally seems willing to spend some serious money on the club. I think we will be in the ACL within 3 years. However, I know I speak for the majority of Vissel supporters when I say we want to WIN something – anything.
Q – Please can you tell us about the fans of your club.
A – The traditional love for baseball in this region of Japan has been one obstacle to the growth of football as a spectator sport. Nevertheless, Vissel Kobe still manages to draw average attendances of around 13,000 for home matches. There is nothing particularly unique about Vissel supporters, perhaps only the rousing rendition of “Kobe Sanka”, a customized version of the Edith Piaf love song "L'Hymne a l'amour", sung just prior to kick off.
Q – Please can you give a brief description of a typical matchday at Kobe
A – Most season ticket holders arrive about two hours prior to kick off, apart from a few who come even earlier to set up banners etc. There is always a festive atmosphere outside the ground with many food stalls, souvenir shops and kids’ activities. Supporters start singing songs during the pre-match warm-up and basically don’t stop until after the final whistle. We usually spill out into the courtyard for a few post-match drinks and then each supporter group (there are many) usually ends up at their respective favorite restaurant/bar to continue the fun – win or lose.
Q – What do fans of other clubs think of Vissel Kobe FC?
A – Except Gamba fans, I think most other fans have a neutral view of Vissel, probably due to, unfortunately, our lack of success. However, everyone loves the city of Kobe and away fans also agree that our stadium is one of the best in Japan.
Q – Who do you consider to be your closest rivals? And why?
A – Our arch rivals are Gamba Osaka. We hate them and they hate us. Located in the northern part of Osaka, they are geographically the closest team to us.
Q – How has the partnership with Chonburi been welcomed by the fans?
A – To be honest, it hasn’t really been a topic of discussion amongst supporters, although most people are aware of it.
Q - Have there been any dissenting voices?
A – Not at all.
Q – What are you as a club hoping to get out of the partnership deal? What does the management expect? What do the fans expect?
A – Except for the brief statement made by the club following the deal, the club has not communicated any real details about the partnership. Personally, I am optimistic about the relationship, but still waiting for more news.
Q – What did you know about Chonburi and Thai football before the deal was signed?
A – Before the deal was signed, absolutely nothing.
Q – How was the deal reported in the local press and by the club?
A – The local press didn’t really report the deal. The club made an announcement which was picked up by a few sports media outlets.
Q – Has the deal been widely reported in Japan? How has it been received?
A – I assume the only people that are aware of this news are Vissel supporters and a few hardcore J.League fans who scour the net daily for football related news.
Q – How closely will you be following Chonburi’s progress now we are “related”?
A – Since the announcement, I have been following the results a bit, but most people I know have not.
Q – Can you give us a Japanese to chant at our ground on matchdays.
A – The word “Ganbare” in Japanese means to do your best or compete hard. So a chant of “Ganbare Chonburi” or “Ganbare (player’s name)” can send a simple but powerful message. It is pronounced “Gan” as in gun, “Ba” as in sheep sound and “Re” as in red without the d.
Q – Anything else you’d like to add?
A – Vissel Kobe fans are very passionate and always welcome to making alliances. I hope we can get more information about our new friends and make it a long and fruitful partnership.
With thanks to Jay.
You can visit Jay's website here:
La Famiglia di Kobe
And follow him on Twitter here:
Chonburi recently signed a partnership deal with Japanese side Vissel Kobe. In the next couple of weeks I will be running a series of features on our new "sister" club. The first article is an interview with Barry Valder, who supports S-Pulse, one of Kobe's rivals in the J-League.
Q – Please can you introduce yourself.
A – Barry Valder, 33, from Eastbourne in England. Now living in Shizuoka, Japan.
Q – What brought about your move to Japan?
A – A sense of adventure after university.
Q – How long have you lived in Japan?
A – 8 years.
Q – When did you start supporting S-Pulse?
A – Technically, the first day in Shizuoka when I asked who our nearest team was. Officially, the first game I went to in March 2004.
Q – How did you first become aware of S-Pulse and what inspired you to start supporting them?
A – Asking another Brit abroad the first day in Shizuoka who the nearest club was decided my team for me. There was zero information in English online at that time.
Q – What were your first impressions of Japanese league football?
A – The outrageous levels of time wasting when a team is winning. This is still largely the case today. The fans were so mixed compared to England with kids, teenage girls and old women just as much part of it as the usual 15-70 male demographic.
Q – How have things changed and developed during the time you have been following the J-League?
A – Since the ACL was rebranded in the late 2000s many more teams cite it as a goal. Despite the ACL pretty much destroying any teams’ season when it comes to the challenging for the league, most teams and fans still set it as a goal. At least behind the goal at S-Pulse, younger kids are coming through and making their mark as supporters which is keeping the supporter culture evolving.
Q – What are you able to tell us about Vissel Kobe?
A – The used to wear black and white until a few years ago when a new owner changed the colour. Some fans still resent that. Great stadium and a great city. Fans are good, but amongst the lower average crowds in J1. Okubo is a stand out player.
Q – What do fans of other clubs think of Vissel Kobe? – Do they provoke any sort of feelings, either negative or positive?
A – Not especially. I don’t think they have ever won anything and they always finish midtable, which keeps feelings fairly neutral.
Q – What sort of reputation do Vissel Kobe fans have?
A – Nothing to make them stand out, really. Colourful and noisy like most other Japanese fans, but no reputation to speak of, good or bad.
Q – Please could you give any experiences of matches involving your team and Vissel Kobe.
A – Usually quite hard to beat, being a physical, hard working team. This year we’ve beaten them twice away from home so far, but only by one goal each time.
Q – What sort of city is Kobe? What sort of reputation does it have?
A – Excellent city! A short trip from Osaka, so kind of overshadowed in that respect as most action happens there, but Kobe has a great waterfront, tons of shopping and a lively night life. There is also a long history of foreign relations, so plenty of influence from various countries in the architecture. I was only there for two days, but loved the place.
Q – How do you think the link up will benefit Vissel Kobe and Chonburi?
A – I don’t really know much about this situation, but mutual promotion can only help each team. J. League doesn’t market itself much overseas, so this will help Kobe gain some support in Thailand, I’m sure.
Q – What do you know about Chonburi FC and Thai football?
A – Nothing, sorry.
Q – How is the Thai Premier League perceived in Japan?
A – I don’t know anything about it, or how it’s perceived.
Q – Was the link up widely reported in the Japanese press?
A – This was the first I heard about it, but I’m an S-Pulse fan so things off the Shimizu radar don’t often register.
Q – Anything else you’d like to add?
A – Go S-Pulse!
With thanks to Barry.
Barry is the webmaster of www.ukultras.co.uk
and can be followed on Twitter here @spulseukultras
VISSEL THAI-UP WITH CHONBURI
Vissel Kobe and Chonburi Sign Partnership Deal!
by Alan Gibson
Officials from Thai Premier League team Chonburi FC, riding high in the Thai Premier League and through to the last 16 of the AFC Cup, were in Kobe in May to sign a partnership agreement with Vissel Kobe. Vissel chairman Koichi Kanaya had traveled to Bangkok a week previously to sign the forms with Chonburi counterpart Vitthaya Khunpleum and then the Thai delegates came to Kobe to complete the dual press conferences.
The partnership comes with the slogan “One Passion, Walk Together” and both clubs hope to benefit in increasing knowledge in the playing areas, as well as coaching, and even football tourism.
Officially, the agreement allows for senior and junior coach exchange in a bid to increase the knowledge of both teams through different styles of foot- ball in Asia, while a marketing partnership will help raise the profiles of both clubs. Personally I am hoping we might see a Thai player in the J.League soon and also think it will be a good chance for some of Vissel’s younger players to gain some playing experience elsewhere, if things fall into place that way, also.
Chonburi is managed by Withaya Laohakul, who played in Japan for Yanmar Diesel in 1977-78, and for Matsushita Denki in 1986-87, scoring 20 goals in 65 games from midfield. He then spent seven years coaching at Matsushita / Gamba Osaka from 1988 to 1995 and returned to Japan to manage Gainare Tottori from 2007 to 2010. Adding to the Japanese connection, the team includes 25 year old Japanese midfielder Kazuto Kushida.
JSoccer Magazine Issue 4 also features Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda, Shimizu S-Pulse, Nadeshiko Japan, Gamba Osaka and much more. The magazine is available from www.jsoccer.com (click on the magazine links on the top right) or mail email@example.com for more details. Editor Alan Gibson has a special offer for our readers - buy Issue 4 and get the PDFs of Issues 1, 2 and 3 FREE by email! Or pay just the extra postage and you can have paper copies of the magazines too! Mail Alan to see what he can do for you!
This feature is currently in development but will be available soon.