TOKYO - As Japan struggles to recover
from last week's devastating earthquake, the J.League shelved
all of this month's matches on Monday, while the football
association backtracked on a decision to host two friendlies.
The J.League had already cancelled last weekend's J1 and J2
matches after Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami
battered northeastern Japan, leading to a nuclear power plant
crisis and serious electricity shortages.
On Monday, a total of 41 games were postponed to a date yet
to be determined, with J.League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi saying
they would probably be held in July, Japanese news agency Kyodo
Japan had been invited to participate in the Copa America
that month and the Japan Football Association (JFA) said the
national side would still head to the tournament in Argentina
despite the possibility of a scheduling conflict.
However, one day after stating that friendlies against
Montenegro and New Zealand in Shizuoka and Tokyo would go ahead
as planned at the end of this month, JFA general secretary Kozo
Tashima (pictured) said the body "was keeping its options open."
Tashima added that the JFA would reevaluate the situation
and make a final decision by Wednesday, a day before coach
Alberto Zaccheroni, who flew home to Italy on Saturday, is
scheduled to name his team for the two games.
"When I spoke yesterday, both (JFA chief Junji) Ogura and I
thought things would head back to normal by Monday," Tashima
"But the information we now have and what we had yesterday
is different, and it could change again tomorrow for all we
Tashima said the planned power outages announced by the
government on Sunday was one reason for the reconsideration,
given that national team matches in Japan are held at night and
an afternoon kick-off would generate a smaller tv audience.
With the lack of power, trains have also stopped running,
which would make it impossible for fans to actually reach the
"We have to look at all the factors, like travelling to and
from Shizuoka (southwest of the capital)," Tashima added.
"We are keeping all options open. We will operate on
accurate, correct information. What we won't do is make a
decision based on whim."
The J.League's Ohigashi added that if the situation did not
improve, more games could be postponed leading to a major
overhaul of the 2011 football calendar.
"Things are very serious right now," Ohigashi said at a news
conference at the league's headquarters in Tokyo.
"With the aftershocks continuing and (us being) unable to
guarantee complete safety at all the stadiums, the J.League has
made the decision to cancel all J1, J2 and Nabisco (League) Cup
matches for the rest of March.
"The J.League, Nabisco Cup fixtures are tight as it is. We
have no choice but to play games in July. The plan is to play
the existing number of J.League and Nabisco Cup games, and to do
that we have to play during the Copa America.
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