J.League postponed, Copa in doubt

March 15, 2011 - 0:0

As the nation struggles to come to terms with last week's devastating earthquake, Japan's J.League has postponed all matches in March and the national team may pull out of the Copa America, local media reported.

A total of 41 games were postponed to a date yet to be determined, but J.League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi said they would probably be held in July - the month Japan is due to make a guest appearance at the Copa America in Argentina, Japanese news agency Kyodo said.
The J.League had already cancelled last weekend's J1 and J2 matches after Friday's earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, leading to a nuclear power plant crisis and serious electricity shortage.
Ohigashi added that if the situation did not improve, more games could be postponed leading to a major overhaul of the 2011 soccer calendar.
""Things are very serious right now,"" Ohigashi said at J.League headquarters in Tokyo on Monday.
""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.""
Ahead of the press briefing, Ohigashi said he spoke with Vegalta Sendai President Yoichi Shirohata, who told him that the club was inoperable.
""He said the clubhouse and the stadium were in ruins,"" Ohigashi said. ""Needless to say, the players aren't training. The foreign players have gone home and some of the players from Kansai have gone back, too.
""They're struggling to live over there. It's not about training or the game.""
On Sunday, Japan Football Association (JFA) general secretary Kozo Tashima confirmed friendly internationals against Montenegro on March 25 at the Shizuoka Stadium, southwest of Tokyo, and New Zealand in the capital four days later would go ahead.
""The matches are still two weeks away and we need to send a message to the rest of the world,"" Tashima said.
(Source: Reuters)