October 16 – Japan’s professional women’s league – The WE League – has picked its 11 founding clubs ahead of the inaugural 2021-22 season.
Originally expecting to launch with between six and ten clubs, the league received 17 submissions to be founding members. Seven of the final 11 chosen are linked to professional men’s clubs.
The most successful club from the existing Nadeshiko League, 17-time national champions Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza, have been approved entry to the WE League members, as have three-time title winners INAC Kobe Leonessa and Urawa Red Diamonds.
New teams associated with men’s clubs are Mynavi Sendai, JEF United Chiba, AC Parceiro Nagano and Albirex Niigata, with Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Omiya Adrija – who will absorb second-tier FC Jumonji Ventus – to launch new sides.
WE League Chair Kikuko Okajima said: “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people involved in the 17 organisations who applied for membership.
“We asked the club members to submit a huge amount of materials for the judging and to share their passion for the development of women’s football through individual hearings. All of the clubs were fascinating, so we debated the number of clubs at the selection committee and the board of directors, but finally decided to approve 11 clubs.”
The WE League will play a 22-match double round-robin format, with the opening matches to be played in the Japanese autumn.
Founding member clubs are: Mynavi Sendai Ladies, Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies, Omiya Ardija, Chifure AS Elfen Saitama, JEF United Chiba Ladies, NTV Tokyo Verdy Beleza, Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara, AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies, Albirex Niigata Ladies, INAC Kobe Leonessa, Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC.
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