J1 League

The J1 League (Japanese: J1リーグ, Hepburn: Jē-wan Rīgu) or simply J1 is the top division of the Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ, Nihon Puro Sakkā Rīgu) and the top professional Football J.League in Japan.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] It is one of the most successful leagues in Asian club football. Currently, the J1 League is the first level of the Japanese association football league system. The second tier is represented by the J2 League. It is currently sponsored by Meiji Yasuda Life and thus officially known as the Meiji Yasuda J1 League (Japanese: 明治安田生命J1リーグ).[9] Until the 2014 season it was named the J.League Division 1.

J1 League
Organising bodyJ.League
Founded1992; 29 years ago
Number of teams20
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toJ2 League
Domestic cup(s)Emperor's Cup
Fuji Xerox Super Cup
League cup(s)YBC Levain Cup
International cup(s)AFC Champions League
Current championsKawasaki Frontale (3rd title)
Most championshipsKashima Antlers (8 titles)
Top goalscorerYoshito Ōkubo (179 goals)
TV partnersDAZN (Japan only)
Current: 2021 J1 League



Phases of J1

Before the professional league (1992 and earlier)

Before the inception of the J.League, the highest level of club football was the Japan Soccer League (JSL), which consisted of amateur clubs.[10][11] Despite being well-attended during the boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s (when Japan's national team won the bronze Olympic medal at the 1968 games in Mexico), the JSL went into decline in the 1980s, in general line with the deteriorating situation worldwide. Fans were few, the grounds were not of the highest quality, and the Japanese national team was not on a par with the Asian powerhouses. To raise the level of play domestically, to attempt to garner more fans, and to strengthen the national team, the Japan Football Association (JFA) decided to form a professional league.

The professional association football league, J.League was formed in 1992, with eight clubs drawn from the JSL First Division, one from the Second Division, and the newly formed Shimizu S-Pulse. At the same time, JSL changed its name and became the former Japan Football League, a semi-professional league. Although the J.League did not officially launch until 1993, the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup competition was held between the ten clubs in 1992 to prepare for the inaugural season.

Inaugural season and J.League boom (1993–1995)

J.League officially kicked off its first season with ten clubs in early 1993.

After the boom (1996–1999)

Despite the success in the first three years, in early 1996 the league attendance declined rapidly. In 1997 the average attendance was 10,131, compared to more than 19,000 in 1994. Notably, Arsene Wenger managed Nagoya Grampus Eight during this period.

Change of infrastructure and game formats (1999–2004)

The league's management finally realized that they were heading in the wrong direction. In order to solve the problem, the management came out with two solutions.

First, they announced the J.League Hundred Year Vision, in which they aim to make 100 professional association football clubs in the nation of Japan by 2092, the hundredth season. The league also encouraged the clubs to promote football or non-football related sports and health activities, to acquire local sponsorships, and to build good relationship with their hometowns at the grass-root level. The league believed that this will allow the clubs to bond with their respective cities and towns and get support from local government, companies, and citizens. In other words, clubs will be able to rely on the locals, rather than major national sponsors.

Second, the infrastructure of the league was heavily changed in 1999. The league acquired nine clubs from the semi-professional JFL and one club from J.League to create a two division system. The top flight became the J.League Division 1 (J1) with 16 clubs while J.League Division 2 (J2) was launched with ten clubs in 1999. The former second-tier Japan Football League now became the third-tier Japan Football League.

Also, until 2004 (with the exception of 1996 season), the J1 season was divided into two. At the end of each full season, the champion from each half played a two-legged series to determine the overall season winner and runners-up. Júbilo Iwata in 2002, and Yokohama F. Marinos in 2003, won both "halves" of the respective seasons, thus eliminating the need for the playoff series. This was the part of the reason the league abolished the split-season system starting from 2005.

European League Format & AFC Champions League (2005–2008)

Since the 2005 season, J.League Division 1 consisted of 18 clubs (from 16 in 2004) and the season format became more similar to European club football. The number of relegated clubs also increased from 2 to 2.5, with the 3rd-to-last club going into the promotion/relegation playoffs with the third-placed J2 club. Since then, other than minor adjustments, the top flight has stayed consistent.

Japanese teams did not treat the AFC Champions League that seriously in the early years, in part due to the distances travelled and teams played. However, in the 2008 Champions League, three Japanese sides made the quarter-finals.[12]

However, in recent years, with the inclusion of the A-League in Eastern Asia, introduction to the Club World Cup, and increased marketability in the Asian continent, both the league and the clubs paid more attention to Asian competition. For example, Kawasaki Frontale built up a notable fan base in Hong Kong, owing to their participation in the Asian Champions League during the 2007 season.[13] Continuous effort led to the success of Urawa Red Diamonds in 2007 and Gamba Osaka in 2008. Thanks to excellent league management and competitiveness in Asian competition, the AFC awarded J.League the highest league ranking and a total of four slots starting from the 2009 season. The league took this as an opportunity to sell TV broadcasting rights to foreign countries, especially in Asia.

Also starting from the 2008 season, the Emperor's Cup Winner was allowed to participate in the upcoming Champions League season, rather than waiting a whole year (i.e. 2005 Emperor's Cup winner, Tokyo Verdy, participated in the 2007 ACL season, instead of the 2006 season). In order to fix this one-year lag issue, the 2007 Emperor's Cup winner, Kashima Antlers' turn was waived. Nonetheless, Kashima Antlers ended up participating in the 2009 ACL season by winning the J.League title in the 2008 season.

Modern phase (2009–2016)

Three major changes were seen starting in the 2009 season. First, starting that season, four clubs entered the AFC Champions League. Secondly, the number of relegation slots increased to three. Finally, the AFC Player slot was implemented starting this season. Each club will be allowed to have a total of four foreign players; however, one slot is reserved for a player that derives from an AFC country other than Japan. Also, as a requirement of being a member of the Asian Football Confederation, the J.League Club Licence regulations started in 2012 as one criterion of whether a club was allowed to stay in its division or to be promoted to a higher tier in professional level league. No major changes happened to J.League Division 1 as the number of clubs stayed at 18.

In 2015 the J.League Division 1 was renamed J1 League. Also, the tournament format was changed to a three-stage system. The season was split into first and second stages, followed by a third and final championship stage. The third stage was composed of three to five teams. The top point accumulator in each stage and the top three point accumulators for the overall season qualified. If both of the stage winners finished in the top three teams for the season, then only three teams qualified for the championship stage. These teams then took part in a championship playoff stage to decide the winner of the league trophy.

Future (2017–)

Despite the new multi-stage format being initially reported as locked in for five seasons, due to a negative reaction from hardcore fans, and a failure to appeal to casual fans, towards the end of the 2016 it was abandoned in favour of a return to a single-stage system.[14] From 2017, the team which accumulates the most points will be named champion, with no championship stage taking place at the season's end, and from 2018, the bottom two clubs are relegated and the 16th-placed club enters a playoff with the J2 club that wins a promotion playoff series.[15] If the J2 playoff winner prevails, the club is promoted, with the J1 club being relegated, otherwise the J1 club can retain its position in J1 League with the promotion failure of the J2 club.

In November 2017, Urawa Red Diamonds played the AFC Champions League final against Al Hilal. After a draw in the first leg, Urawa Red Diamonds won the second leg 1-0 and were crowned Asian Champions. In the past 10–15 years, Japanese clubs have risen not only continentally, but also internationally. Clubs Gamba Osaka and Urawa Red Diamonds have been crowned Asian champions and participated in the Club World Cup, always targeting at least the semi-finals. Kashima Antlers were finalists of the 2016 edition and eventually lost to Real Madrid.


Year Important events # J clubs # ACL clubs Rele. slots
  • JFA forms a professional league assessment committee.
  • The committee decides the criteria for professional clubs
  • Fifteen to twenty clubs from Japan Soccer League applies for the professional league membership
  • The J.League officially kicks off its first season
1994 12
  • Following clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol
  • The points system is introduced for the first time: a club receives 3 pts for any win, 1 pt for PK loss, and 0 pts for regulation or extra time loss.
  • Following clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Kyoto Purple Sanga and Avispa Fukuoka
  • The league adopts single season format
  • J.League average attendance hits the record low 10,131
  • Following club is promoted from Japan Football League: Vissel Kobe
  • The league goes back to split-season format
  • The points system changes: a club receives 3 pts for a regulation win, 2 pts for extra-time win, 1 pt for PK win, and 0 pts for any loss.
  • Following club is promoted from Japan Football League: Consadole Sapporo
  • Yokohama Flügels announce that they will be dissolved into crosstown rivals Yokohama Marinos for the 1999 season
  • The league announces the J.League Hundred Year Vision
  • The league announces incorporation of two-division system for the 1999 season
  • The league hosts J.League Promotion Tournament to decide to promote and/or relegate clubs. As a result, Consadole Sapporo becomes the first club be to relegated.
  • Yokohama Marinos merge with Yokohama Flügels to become Yokohama F. Marinos
  • Penalty kick shootouts are abolished in both divisions; however, golden goal extra-time rules stayed
  • The points system changes: a club receives 3 pts for a regulation win, 2 pts for an extra time win, and 1 pt for a tie
  • Japan Football League (former) is also restructured, as it becomes the 3rd-tier Japan Football League.
Note: To distinguish between the former and the current JFL, the new JFL is pronounced Nihon Football League in Japanese.
16 2
2000 16 2
2001 16 2
2002 16 2 2
  • Extra time is abolished in Division 1 and traditional 3–1–0 points system is adopted
16 2
  • No automatic relegation this season, as the top flight expands to 18 clubs in the following season
  • Inception of the two-legged Promotion/Relegation Series
16 2 0.5
  • J.League Division 1 expands to 18 clubs
  • J.League Division 1 adopts single-season format
18 2 2.5
2006 18 2 2.5
Note: If a Japanese club wins the AFC Champions League, the host loses its right.
18 2 2.5
2008 18 2 + 1 2.5
  • Four clubs enter AFC Champions League.
  • Implementation of a 4th foreign player slot, a.k.a. AFC player slot
  • Promotion/Relegation Series is eliminated and 16th-place club is now relegated by default.
18 4 3
2010 18 4 3
2011 18 4 3
  • J.League reinstates split-season format for the next five seasons.
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host for the next two seasons again.
18 4 3
  • J.League champion qualifies to the FIFA Club World Cup as the host.
  • Kashima Antlers reaches the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup Final becoming the first Asian club and only Japanese club to reach the Final, finishing with the silver medal.
18 4 3
  • J.League reinstates single-season format after only two seasons.
  • Urawa Red Diamonds wins the 2017 AFC Champions League becoming the first Japanese club to win this competition twice.
18 4 3
  • J.League implements entry playoff between 16th J1 club and J2 playoffs winner.
  • Kashima Antlers wins the 2018 AFC Champions League becoming only the third Japanese club to win this competition. Kashima goes on to finish 4th at 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, the best performance by a Japanese club in a FIFA World Cup held overseas outside of Japanese soil.
18 4 2.5
  • J.League implements a new foreigners rule. J1, J2 and J3 clubs can recruit as many foreign players as they desire, but only 5 (J1) or 4 (J2&J3) can be in the matchday squad. The "Asian slot" is removed. Players from certain J.League partner nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, etc. are not counted as foreigners.
18 4 2.5
2020 18 3 0
  • League expansion to 20 clubs
20 3 4

2021 season

League format

Eighteen clubs will play in double round-robin (home and away) format, a total of 34 games each. A club receives 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, and 0 points for a loss. The clubs are ranked by points, and tiebreakers are, in the following order:

  • Goal differential
  • Goals scored
  • Head-to-head results
  • Disciplinary points

A draw would be conducted, if necessary. However, if two clubs are tied for first place, both clubs will be declared as co-champions. The top three clubs will qualify to the following year's AFC Champions League, while the bottom two clubs will be relegated to J2. The third club will play a playoff against the J2 playoffs-winning team.

Prize money (2020 figures)
  • Champions: 300,000,000 yen
  • Second place: 120,000,000 yen
  • Third place: 60,000,000 yen

In addition to the prize, top 4 clubs are awarded with the following funds.

J league funds distributed to top 4 clubs (from 2017)
  • Champions: 1,550,000,000 yen
  • Second place: 700,000,000 yen
  • Third place: 350,000,000 yen
  • Fourth place: 180,000,000 yen


Participating clubs

Locations of the 2020 J1 League teams
2020 J1 League teams in Greater Tokyo Area
2020 J1 League teams in Keihanshin
Club Year
in J1
Based in First season in
top flight
Seasons in
top flight
Current spell in
top flight
Last title
Kashima Antlers 1993 28 Southwestern cities/towns of Ibaraki 1985/86 31 1993– 2016
Avispa Fukuoka 1996 9 Fukuoka, Fukuoka 1996 9 2021–
Shonan Bellmare 1994 13 South and central cities/town in Kanagawa 1972 31 2018– 1981
Cerezo Osaka 1995 20 Osaka & Sakai, Osaka 1965 46 2017– 1980
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 1998 9 All cities/towns in Hokkaidō 1989/90 12 2017–
Yokohama F. Marinos 1993 28 Yokohama, Yokosuka & Yamato 1979 40 1982– 2019
Kawasaki Frontale 1999 (J2) 17 Kawasaki, Kanagawa 1977 19 2005– 2020
Gamba Osaka 1993 27 North cities in Osaka 1986/87 34 2014– 2014
Nagoya Grampus 1993 27 All cities/towns in Aichi 1973 35 2018– 2010
Urawa Red Diamonds 1993 27 Saitama 1965 53 2001– 2006
Kashiwa Reysol 1995 23 Kashiwa, Chiba 1965 47 2020– 2011
Shimizu S-Pulse 1993 (J) 27 Shizuoka 1993 27 2017–
Sagan Tosu 1999 (J2) 9 Tosu, Saga 2012 9 2012–
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1993 26 Hiroshima, Hiroshima 1965 48 2009– 2015
FC Tokyo 1999 (J2) 20 Chofu 2000 20 2012–
Oita Trinita 1999 (J2) 10 All cities/towns in Ōita 2003 10 2019–
Vegalta Sendai 1999 (J2) 13 Sendai, Miyagi 2002 13 2010–
Vissel Kobe 1997 22 Kobe, Hyōgo 1997 22 2014–
Tokushima Vortis 2005 (J2) 1 All cities/towns in Tokushima 2014 1 2021–
Yokohama FC 2001 (J2) 2 Yokohama, Kanagawa 2007 2 2020–

Source for teams participating:[17]

  • Pink background denotes club was most recently promoted from J2 League.
  • "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J.League (Division 1 unless otherwise indicated).
  • "First season in top flight", "Seasons in top flight", "Current spell in top flight", and "Last title" include seasons in the old Japan Soccer League First Division.

Stadiums (2021)

Primary venues used in the J1 League:

Urawa Red Diamonds Kashima Antlers Shimizu S-Pulse Gamba Osaka Yokohama F. Marinos Kawasaki Frontale Shonan Bellmare
Saitama Stadium 2002 Kashima Soccer Stadium IAI Stadium Nihondaira Panasonic Stadium Suita Nissan Stadium Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka
Capacity: 63,700 Capacity: 40,728 Capacity: 20,339 Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 72,370 Capacity: 26,000 Capacity: 15,200
Nihondaira stadium20090412.jpg NISSANSTADIUM20080608.JPG Todoroki 100911.JPG Hiratsukakyogijo1.jpg
Vissel Kobe Nagoya Grampus Cerezo Osaka Kashiwa Reysol Yokohama FC
Noevir Stadium Kobe Paloma Mizuho Stadium Toyota Stadium Yanmar Stadium Nagai Nagai Ball Game Field Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium
Capacity: 30,132 Capacity: 27,000 Capacity: 45,000 Capacity: 47,816 Capacity: 19,904 Capacity: 15,349 Capacity: 15,454
Mizuho Stadium 1.JPG
Nagoya Grampus game in Toyota Stadium 100814.JPG
Nagai stadium20040717.jpg
Vegalta Sendai Consadole Sapporo Sagan Tosu FC Tokyo Oita Trinita Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Yurtec Stadium Sendai Sapporo Dome Sapporo Atsubetsu Stadium Ekimae Real Estate Stadium Ajinomoto Stadium Showa Denko Dome Oita Edion Stadium Hiroshima
Capacity: 19,694 Capacity: 41,484 Capacity: 20,861 Capacity: 24,490 Capacity: 50,100 Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 36,906
Atsubetsu Stadium 1.JPG
Tosu Stadium 20110508.JPG
Ajinomoto Stadium 20101120.JPG Ooita Stadium20090514.jpg Bigarch050423.jpg
Avispa Fukuoka Tokushima Vortis
Best Denki Stadium Pocarisweat Stadium
Capacity: 21,562 Capacity: 20,441

Former clubs

Club Year
in J1
Based in First season in
top flight
Seasons in
top flight
Last spell in
top flight
Albirex Niigata 1999 (J2) 14 Niigata & Seirō, Niigata 2004 14 2004–2017 J2
Omiya Ardija 1999 (J2) 12 Saitama 2005 12 2016–2017 J2
Yokohama Flügels 1993 6 Yokohama, Kanagawa 1985/86 11 1988/89–1998 Defunct
JEF United Chiba 1993 17 Chiba & Ichihara, Chiba 1965 44 1965–2009 1985/86 J2
Júbilo Iwata 1994 24 Iwata, Shizuoka 1980 33 2016–2019 2002 J2
Montedio Yamagata 1999 (J2) 4 All cities/towns in Yamagata 2009 4 2015 J2
Kyoto Sanga 1996 11 Southwestern cities/towns in Kyoto 1996 11 2008–2010 J2
V-Varen Nagasaki 2013 (J2) 1 All cities/towns in Nagasaki 2018 1 2018 J2
Ventforet Kofu 1999 (J2) 8 All cities/towns in Yamanashi 2006 8 2013–2017 J2
Tokyo Verdy 1993 14 Tokyo 1978 28 2008 1994 J2
Matsumoto Yamaga 2012 (J2) 2 Central cities/village in Nagano 2015 2 2019 J2
  • Grey background denotes club was most recently relegated to J2 League.
  • "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J.League (Division 1 unless otherwise indicated).
  • "First season in top flight", "Seasons in top flight", "Last spell in top flight", and "Last title" includes seasons in the old Japan Soccer League First Division.


Championship history

Year Champions Runners-up
Verdy Kawasaki Kashima Antlers
Verdy Kawasaki Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Yokohama F. Marinos Verdy Kawasaki
Kashima Antlers Nagoya Grampus Eight
Júbilo Iwata Kashima Antlers
Kashima Antlers Júbilo Iwata
Júbilo Iwata Shimizu S-Pulse
Kashima Antlers Yokohama F. Marinos
Kashima Antlers Júbilo Iwata
Júbilo Iwata Yokohama F. Marinos
Yokohama F. Marinos Júbilo Iwata
Yokohama F. Marinos Urawa Red Diamonds
Gamba Osaka Urawa Red Diamonds
Urawa Red Diamonds Kawasaki Frontale
Kashima Antlers Urawa Red Diamonds
Kashima Antlers Kawasaki Frontale
Kashima Antlers Kawasaki Frontale
Nagoya Grampus Gamba Osaka
Kashiwa Reysol Nagoya Grampus
Sanfrecce Hiroshima Vegalta Sendai
Sanfrecce Hiroshima Yokohama F. Marinos
Gamba Osaka Urawa Red Diamonds
Sanfrecce Hiroshima Gamba Osaka
Kashima Antlers Urawa Red Diamonds
Kawasaki Frontale Kashima Antlers
Kawasaki Frontale Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Yokohama F. Marinos FC Tokyo
Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka

Most successful clubs

Clubs in bold compete in top flight for the 2021 season.

Club Champions Runners-Up Winning Seasons Runners-Up Seasons
Kashima Antlers
1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016 1993, 1997, 2017
Yokohama F. Marinos
1995, 2003, 2004, 2019 2000, 2002, 2013
Júbilo Iwata
1997, 1999, 2002 1998, 2001, 2003
Kawasaki Frontale
2017, 2018, 2020 2006, 2008, 2009
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
2012, 2013, 2015 1994, 2018
Gamba Osaka
2005, 2014 2010, 2015, 2020
Tokyo Verdy
1993, 1994 1995
Urawa Red Diamonds
2006 2004, 2005, 2007, 2014, 2016
Nagoya Grampus
2010 1996, 2011
Kashiwa Reysol
Shimizu S-Pulse
Vegalta Sendai
FC Tokyo

Relegation history

Only four clubs have never been relegated from J1. Among those, only two clubs – Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F. Marinos – have been participating in every league season since its establishment in 1993. Sagan Tosu were promoted to the first division in 2012, and remain there ever since. The former J.League club Yokohama Flügels never experienced relegation before their merger with Yokohama Marinos in 1999.

JEF United Chiba holds the record for the longest top flight participation streak of 44 consecutive seasons in the first divisions of JSL and J.League that lasted since the establishment of JFL in 1965 and ended with their relegation in 2009. The longest ongoing top flight streak belongs to Yokohama F. Marinos who play in the top flight since 1982 (40 seasons as of 2020).

The 1998 season

When the league introduced the two-division system in 1999, they also reduced number of Division 1 club from 18 to 16. At the end of 1998 season, they hosted the J.League Promotion Tournament to determine two relegating clubs.

Split-season era (1999–2004, 2015–2016)

Throughout 1999 to 2003 seasons, two bottom clubs were relegated to Division 2. To accommodate for split-season format, combined overall standings were used to determine the relegating clubs. This created a confusing situation, where for the championship race stage standing were used, while overall standing was used for relegation survival.

At end of the 2004 season, Division 1 again expanded from 16 to 18 clubs. No clubs were relegated; however, last-placed (16th) club had to play Promotion/Relegation Series against 3rd placed club from J2. Again, to determine 16th placed club, overall standing was used instead of stage standing.

For two seasons starting in 2015, three bottom clubs were relegated based on overall standings.

Single season era (2005–2014, 2017–2019, 2022–future)

For the next four seasons, 2005 to 2008, the number of relegating clubs was increased to 2.5, with two clubs from each division being promoted and relegated directly, and two more (15th in J1 and 3rd in J2) competed in Promotion/Relegation Series.

In 2009, the pro/rele series were abandoned and three teams are directly exchanged between divisions. In 2012, promotion playoffs were introduced in J2, allowing teams that finished from 3rd to 6th to compete for J1 promotion place. For the 2018 and 2019 seasons and from 2022, the bottom two teams are relegated and the entry playoff has the 16th team play the J2 playoff winner.

Single season era (2021)

No teams descended to J2 after the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan and its effects.[18] Instead, four relegations are in place for the 2021 season, bringing back the number of teams from 20 to 18.[19]

Year 15th Place 16th Place 17th Place 18th Place
1998 JEF United Ichihara Consadole Sapporo Vissel Kobe Avispa Fukuoka
1999 Urawa Red Diamonds Bellmare Hiratsuka Only 16 clubs participated
2000 Kyoto Purple Sanga Kawasaki Frontale
2001 Avispa Fukuoka Cerezo Osaka
2002 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Consadole Sapporo
2003 Vegalta Sendai Kyoto Purple Sanga
2004 Cerezo Osaka Kashiwa Reysol
2005 Shimizu S-Pulse Kashiwa Reysol Tokyo Verdy 1969 Vissel Kobe
2006 Ventforet Kofu Avispa Fukuoka Cerezo Osaka Kyoto Purple Sanga
2007 Omiya Ardija Sanfrecce Hiroshima Ventforet Kofu Yokohama FC
2008 JEF United Chiba Júbilo Iwata Tokyo Verdy Consadole Sapporo
2009 Montedio Yamagata Kashiwa Reysol Oita Trinita JEF United Chiba
2010 Vissel Kobe FC Tokyo Kyoto Sanga Shonan Bellmare
2011 Urawa Red Diamonds Ventforet Kofu Avispa Fukuoka Montedio Yamagata
2012 Albirex Niigata Vissel Kobe Gamba Osaka Consadole Sapporo
2013 Ventforet Kofu Shonan Bellmare Júbilo Iwata Oita Trinita
2014 Shimizu S-Pulse Omiya Ardija Cerezo Osaka Tokushima Vortis
2015 Albirex Niigata Matsumoto Yamaga Shimizu S-Pulse Montedio Yamagata
2016 Albirex Niigata Nagoya Grampus Shonan Bellmare Avispa Fukuoka
2017 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Ventforet Kofu Albirex Niigata Omiya Ardija
2018 Nagoya Grampus Júbilo Iwata Kashiwa Reysol V-Varen Nagasaki
2019 Sagan Tosu Shonan Bellmare Matsumoto Yamaga Júbilo Iwata
2020 Yokohama FC Shimizu S-Pulse Vegalta Sendai Shonan Bellmare
Year 17th Place 18th Place 19th Place 20th Place

* Bold designates relegated clubs;
† Won the Pro/Rele Series or entry playoff;
‡ Lost the Pro/Rele Series or entry playoff and relegated

Other tournaments

Domestic tournaments
International tournaments
Defunct tournament

Players and managers



Media coverage


All J1 matches are streamed live through DAZN until 2028 season, with selected matches also televised live plus highlights of other matches also available on public broadcaster NHK.[20]

Outside Japan

The league is currently covered internationally (excluding China) by NHK World Premium (Japanese audio only)[21] and Dentsu.[22][23]


Country/region Broadcaster
 Australia Optus Sport[24]
 Austria SportdigitalDACH
 Brunei Astro SuperSport
 China K-Ball CHN

FTA and pay (regional television)


  • Wasu


Balkans Sport Klub
 Hong Kong i-Cable
 Indonesia Media Nusantara Citra
Kompas Gramedia Group
 Ireland FreeSports[25]
 United Kingdom
 Israel Sport 5
 Macau TDM
 MENA Dubai Sports
 Taiwan ELTA
 Thailand MCOT

^CHN – as main distributor, including J2 matches

^DACH – starting from MW2 in 2020 season

See also

League system
Domestic cup
Beach soccer
  • Beach Soccer Championship (National Cup)


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  2. ^ "J-League History Part 5: Expansion, success, and a bright future" . 9 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  3. ^ "J-League History Part 4: Exporting Talent" . 9 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  4. ^ "J-League History Part 3: Growing pains emerge on the road to the 2002 World Cup" . 9 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  5. ^ "J-League History Part 2: Verdy Kawasaki dominates the early years" . 9 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  6. ^ "J-League History Part 1: Professional football begins in Japan" . 9 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Tokyo Journal; Japan Falls for Soccer, Leaving Baseball in Lurch" . The New York Times. 6 June 1994. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Japan Wages Soccer Campaign" . Christian Science Monitor. 11 June 1993. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  9. ^ The logo used in Japan is labeled 「明治安田生命 J1 LEAGUE」.
  10. ^ "Football finds a home in Japan" . FIFA. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  11. ^ "How Japan created a successful league" . When Saturday Comes. 18 July 2010. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  12. ^ John Duerden (11 August 2008). "Asian Debate: Is Japan Becoming Asia's Leader?" . Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  13. ^ 川崎Fが香港でブレーク中、生中継で火 (in Japanese). NikkanSports. 8 March 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  14. ^ Duerden, John. "J.League seeks to wrestle back spotlight from Chinese Super League" . ESPN FC. ESPN. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  15. ^ "2018J1参入プレーオフ 大会方式および試合方式について" . J.League. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  16. ^ "J. League reveals breakdown of prize money, funds" . The Japan Times. 9 February 2017.
  17. ^ "J1 League: Summary" . Soccerway. Global Sports Media. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  18. ^ Orlowitz, Dan (19 March 2020). "J. League to skip relegation as schedule threatened by coronavirus" . The Japan Times.
  19. ^ "Number of clubs promoted and relegated at the end of the 2021 season" (Press release). J.League. 18 November 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  21. ^ "J League Soccer: Urawa Red Diamonds vs F.C.Tokyo" . NHK World Premium. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Overseas Broadcasting details determined for the 2020 MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE:J. LEAGUE.JP" . J.League. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  23. ^ "The 2021 MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE is available for viewing in the following regions and broadcasters" . J.LEAGUE.JP. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  24. ^ "Optus Sport Welcomes J-League to Our 2020 Line Up" . Optus Sport. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  25. ^ "J1 League" . FreeSports. Retrieved 11 February 2020.

External links


Information as of: 17.08.2021 03:41:25 CEST

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