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After baseball, football is the second most popular sport in Japan. The nationwide organization Japan Football Association manages the professional football league J.League, the most successful football league in Asia football.
Although the official English football name of the Japanese Football Association uses the term "football", the term "sakkā" derived from "football" is used much more frequently than "futtobōru". The Japanese name of the JFA is Nippon Sakkā Kyōkai.
Before the Second World War, the common term was shūkyū, a Chinese-Japanese term. After the war, after the previously exclusive Japanese designations were replaced by American, Sakkā became more commonplace. In recent years, many professional teams have called FCs (football clubs). Examples include FC Tokyo and Kyoto Sanga FC.
The first globally popular football-oriented Japanese animated series (manga), Captain Tsubasa, was launched in 1981. Captain Tsubasa was extremely popular with children of both sexes in Japan. His success led to much more club football manga being written, and he played a major role in Japan's club football history. In many schools in Japan football became more popular than baseball in the 1980s due to the series.
Captain Tsubasa has also inspired celebrity footballers such as Hidetoshi Nakata, Seigo Narazaki, Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, Christian Vieri, James Rodriguez, Alexis Sánchez and Alessandro Del Piero to play club football a career. The inspiration for the character of Ōzora Tsubasa came from a number of players, including the most prominent Musashi Mizushima, who is probably the first Japanese football player to play abroad and whose move to São Paulo as a ten-year-old boy was partly imitated in manga.
The anime Giant Killing revolves around a team's efforts to reach the best from one of the worst professional teams in Japan. Other works focusing on football include Hungry Heart: Wild Striker (by the same author of Captain Tsubasa), The Knight in the Area, Days and Inazuma Eleven.
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