Here’s the NY Times with a blog post about Japan’s rise in football. They’ve got quite a comprehensive and flourishing youth setup, with academies, youth clubs and established scouting programs. The writer, one who admittedly has got quite a vested interest in Japanese football, also makes an interesting point that “there is no offseason for soccer in Japan.” Japan may be slipping in other areas such as economic growth and innovation, but in football (soccer), at least it’s somewhat of a rising power.
The NY Times also ran an earlier piece on Japan and South Korea as football lords of Asia after their semifinal clash in the recently concluded Asian Cup. Again, the writer, a different one, points to Japan’s advantage in grassroots development, despite South Korea’s better performances in the regional and international stage.