FEATURE: Tashima’s successful ExCo bid returns Japan to FIFA inner circle

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on Reddit0
61st FIFA Congress
Tashima, then FIFA Vice-President, addresses the FIFA Congress in 2011.

After four years without a Japanese representative in football’s highest echelon of power, Football Association Vice President and Executive General Secretary was voted onto the FIFA Executive Committee at the Congress in Bahrain Thursday with a simple majority of 36 votes.

The 57-year-old, who becomes the fourth Japanese member of the following in the footsteps of Soichi Ichida, Yuzuru Nozu, and Junji Ogura, expressed relief after the result was announced.

“Thanks to everyone’s support I’ve been able to achieve this result, and now I have to show my appreciation,” he said. “Thirty-six votes was the number I thought might be my maximum, with a minimum of around 25. The fact that I could get the maximum is a testament to the work and preparation we put in.”

Tashima had cut a relaxed figure when speaking to Japanese journalists the day before the election, saying he felt he had done all he could to achieve success.

“Yesterday I told you that I it was in the hands of the gods, and it turned out that was correct,” he said.

In addition to expressing his gratitude to the various organisations that supported him throughout his campaign and the member associations who voted for him, Tashima also thanked those involved on the pitch.

“I have to thank the players and coaches too. The fact that there are players enjoying success around the world and that Japan is a strong team certainly helped. Because Japan is such a strong team, I was able to gain those 36 votes. If Japan wasn’t such a good team maybe it wouldn’t have been possible to get so many votes. I always felt that would have an effect.”

That acknowledgement is characteristic of Tashima, who has close links to – and appreciation of – those playing the game.

“Aside from me, the other three AFC ExCo members all have a title – Prince or Sheikh or something – but I come from the football pitch,” he said.

“I’m a football player, I’m a football coach and I will work hard for world football using my experience.”

First up on the agenda will be the issue of how many World Cup places Asia receives for the upcoming tournament in Russia, a figure that has been debated since all four AFC representatives crashed out of Brazil 2014 without a win.

“The next very big issue is the World Cup slots from Asia. Now it’s 4.5 for Asia and in the near future the FIFA ExCo will discuss this matter and we will prepare some logical reasons not to decrease, and I hope to increase the number of slots for Asia.”

Matters of development will also be addressed, and Tashima is looking forward to working with new AFC technical director Andy Roxburgh – who like him has a wealth of experience when it comes to hands-on matters.

“We will co-operate with [Roxburgh] and would like to improve the level of Asian football,” Tashima said.

“I hope he will educate the instructors’ instructors – coaches’ education. In his career in UEFA there were a lot of coaches meetings – national team coaches and Champions League coaches – but so far in Asia there have been no such meetings.”

The contributions made by the JFA to various Asian countries were vital in securing the ExCo seat, and in addition to continuing those efforts Tashima expects there to be an increase in expectations on the JFA – something he aims to live up to.

“Japan is a leading country in Asian football and a lot of the Asian members associations told me that Japan should be on FIFA ExCo, but this is a lot of pressure,” he noted. “I got 36 votes [which represent] a lot of responsibility and I must work hard to serve for all of football’s development in the world, Asia, and of course Japan too.”

JFA president Kuniya Daini echoed those sentiments.

“Until now we’ve tried to do lots of things in Asia and have received appreciation for that,” he said. “I feel now that we have expectations on us, and from now on we have to live up to those expectations.

“Tashima-san has done a lot personally in aiming for this over the last four years, and we have also received a lot of support from various Asian countries. Both of those things have helped produce this result. Now the responsibility on us has become stronger.”

JFA general secretary Hiromi Hara, meanwhile, expressed his hope that this success will help to improve the JFA’s standing in the world game.

“When (former JFA president and FIFA ExCo member Junji) Ogura-san entered FIFA there was lots going on,” Hara told Football Channel. “We had a lot of exchanges within Asia, particularly at the underage categories and by providing coaches with [various opportunities]. Because of that I think we are well-regarded and I think in many ways the JFA will become stronger thanks to Tashima-san entering the FIFA ExCo.”