F.c Kyoto Sanga (京都サンガF.C.)

Kyoto Sanga F.C. (京都サンガF.C.) is a professional football (soccer) club which is based in Kyoto City, Japan, and is affiliated with the Japan Professional Football League (J. League for short).

1922 - 1995 (From the inauguration to the Japan Football League days)

The original club was established as Kyoto Shiko Club (京都紫光クラブ, of which 紫光 means purple light, and the name was at first put down as 紫郊クラブ) in 1922, and is the oldest team belonging to the J. League in Japan. In 1993, the club was divided into two teams: one was "Kyoikukenkyusha FC Kyoto Purple Sanga" (from which "FC Kyoto BAMB 1993" was separated in the next year, 1994, and which was organized mainly by the trainees of Sanga), and the other was the amateur "Kyoto Shiko Club."

In the same year, 1993, the J. League, the first professional football league in Japan, began and a boom in soccer occurred all over Japan. With that enthusiasm, the demand for "organizing a J. League team in Kyoto" increased, and "the Association for organizing a J. League team in Kyoto" collected about 250,000 signatures. As a result of these activities, in January of the next year, 1994, an operating company "Kyocera Purple Sanga Corporation" was established with investments by local businesses such as Kyocera Corporation and Nintendo Co., Ltd. as the main sponsors, and in July of the same year, the company obtained approval for J. League Associate Membership, so a J. League team was ready to be born in Kyoto which would be the hometown of the team. In the next season, 1995, the team achieved second place in the Japan Football League, and was promoted to the J. League for the 1996 season.

1996 - 2000 (From the first year in the J. League to the first demotion)

On entry into the J. League, the club strengthened itself by obtaining players who had experienced playing in the J. League, such as Shunzo ONO (a football player) and Yoshiaki SATO, and they were highly motivated to play the opening game of 1996. They played against Verdy Kawasaki (at present, Tokyo Verdy) which had been in a golden age in those days, and although they lost the game by a score of 1-0, the performance in the game led people to be hopeful about the future of the club.
But in spite of these expectations, the team lost one game after another repeatedly to eventually set an unwanted record of a 17-game losing streak from the opening game of the season, so the manager, Jose Oscar Bernardi, was fired in the middle of the season

To help the team out of difficulties, Ruy RAMOS suddenly transferred from Verdy in May. He livened up the team, together with Shinji FUJIYOSHI and Takayuki YAMAGUCHI who transferred from the same Verdy as if they had followed him. Probably because the RAMOS effect had worked well in a sense, the team earned more wins than losses by 8-7 in the second half of the season.

In 1997, the club invited Pedro Virgilio Rocha FRANCHETTI as manager to make a fresh start, but both of the new foreign players, Carlos Alberto de OLIVEIRA "Capone" and Cleber Eduardo ARADO, turned out to be less able than the expectations, and as if to make things worse, RAMOS, who had been the mental mainstay, left the team to bringing about a midair disintegration of the team. Although the team was able to avoid finishing in last place, the season left behind more regrets to the team than the ranking implied. It can be said that the only happy news was that Yoshihiro NISHIDA was selected as a candidate for the Japan national football team.

Before the 1998 season, the club invited the former manager of the Japan national football team, Hans OOFT, as manager, and in addition to that, acquired experienced former members of the Japan national football team in succession, such as Hajime MORIYASU, Teruo IWAMOTO, Takahiro YAMADA and Hisashi KUROSAKI, and this became a topic at the time. But in spite of these reinforcements, the ranking of the team did not improve and stayed as low as ever, so OOFT resigned his position as manager as early as June. The team entered the 2nd stage with the system of manager Hidehiko SHIMIZU and earned more wins than losses with great difficulties, but the result was that it was barely able to avoid the J1qualification tournament thanks to the dissolution of Yokohama Flugels.

In the next year, 1999, the team still stayed low in the 1st stage, but in the 2nd stage, it invited Shu KAMO as manager, who was also a former manager of the Japan national football team and acquired Kazuyoshi MIURA who had just came back from the Republic of Croatia, with the result that they achieved ninth position, which was the first single digit ranking since the promotion to the J. League.
But as the team had attempted to strengthen itself in a haphazard way by getting outstanding players from other teams, in 2000 it fell into the situation where it would have to pay for it after all
This year, the team was positioned 15th among the 16 teams in the annual ranking, and was eventually demoted to J2.

2001 - 2004 (Promotion to J1 after a year and short-term golden age)

With this demotion as a turning point, the club changed the strengthening method and converted it into making up the team mainly with young players. This being effective, in the 2001 season the young players like Teruaki KUROBE, Daisuke MATSUI and Ji-Sung PARK had emerged as leading members, and the team won the league title of J2 and achieved a comeback to J1 after only one year. KUROBE scored 30 goals and was second in the goal ranking of J2 that year.

In 2002, the club played in J1 again, and although it lost four straight games from the very opening of the season, under Manager Gert Josef Arthur ENGELS, not only the above-mentioned three players, including KUROBE, but also the players up from the subordinate organization like Naohito HIRAI and Makoto KAKUDA did a very good job, and the team was splendidly positioned fifth in the annual standings of the league, not to speak of staying in J1. Moreover, in the Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament, the team defeated Kashima Antlers which would have won its tenth title, and brought the first title to a team based in Kansai after the J. League had been established. These results showed that making up the team mainly of young players had borne fruit.

But the golden age of the team did not last long. The 2003 season, when the team lost Ji-Sung PARK, who had been the pivot of the attack for the team, began with the troubles of the mainstay Teruaki KUROBE, followed by the utter disappointment in Jong-Su KO who was a star from the Republic of Korea and had been expected as a successor to Ji-Sung PARK, so that the team was not able to have a win, almost as if the remarkable results of the previous year had been a falsehood. Young Daisuke MATSUI was not able to make a breakthrough in this situation by himself, and the fact that manager ENGELS and his successor, manager Pim VERBEEK were dismissed immediately, indicated that the team had strayed. After all, the team finished in last place in the annual ranking, and it was settled that the team would be demoted to J2 for the second time.

In the 2004 season, the club set a goal to be promoted to J1 after one year, and got Yong-Soo CHOI from JEF United Ichihara Chiba. The club invited Akihiro NISHIMURA (the former GM of Cerezo Osaka) as manager, and KUROBE and MATSUI remained in the team, so that most people forecasted that the team would certainly be promoted to J1. But the team was not able to gain victories from the early stages of the season, and manager NISHIMURA was dismissed in the middle of the season. Then, the club invited Koichi HASHIRATANI as manager and whose hometown was Kyoto like the club, but partly because KUROBE got injured too often to do a very good job satisfactorily, the team finished fifth in the end.

2005 - 2009 (Repetition of promotion and demotion)

In the 2005 season, HASHIRATANI continued to manage the team. The club had gotten leading members of rival teams such as Daisuke HOSHI, Kenichiro META and Daishi KATO, and both of the foreign players, Paulo Antonio De OLIVEIRA "Paulinho" and Carlos Adriano De JESUS SOARES "Alemao," scored a lot of goals, so that the team ran far ahead of the other teams with overwhelming strength from the early stages of the season. When there were seven games left, the team made it certain that it would be positioned in the top two of the annual ranking, and it was concluded that the team would return to J1 after an interval of two seasons. The team won the J2 championship for the second time overall in the 39th game, and if it had won the final game, it would have attained more points than 99 after Kawasaki Frontale in 2004, but it was defeated by Ventforet Kofu by 1-2 and failed to attain those points.

Because the team made a demonstration of the ability to score goals which had been far and away the most in J2 and the stubborn defense which had conceded the fewest goals in J2, it was expected that the team would stir itself up in J1 after an interval of three years. But the team was not able to ride on the wave of a good condition from the opening of the season, and stayed low in the standings. Although the team was reinforced with Makoto KAKUDA and Kazuki TESHIMA (both of whom returned to the team), it still remained demotion-threatened. In October, manager Koichi HASHIRATANI was eventually dismissed because of the slump of the team, and Head Coach Naohiko MINOBE assumed the post of the new manager. But while under the management of MINOBE the team tried to shore itself up by several approaches like adopting a back three formation, it was not able to change the bad situation. On November 26, the team was defeated by Gamba Osaka, which made it certain that the team would finish 18th (that is, in last place) and that the team would be demoted to J2. The team was the first in history to be demoted to J2 three times.

In February, 2007, the formal name of the club was changed from Kyoto Purple Sanga to Kyoto Sanga F.C., and the nickname was changed to Kyoto Sanga. In accordance with this, a new emblem was set, too. The team color was purple as ever. In order to rebuild the defense which gave up the worst number, 74 goals, in J1 in 2006, the club acquired Yutaka AKITA and Ryuzo MORIOKA, the former defenders of the Japan national football team. Besides, it got Kazuki KURANUKI from Ventforet Kofu and Takashi HIRAJIMA from Avispa Fukuoka, too. Furthermore, all the leading players also stayed behind, so it was a season where the club had to aim to return to J1 after a year. From the opening of the season, although the team did not enjoy a long streak of wins, it did not suffer a streak of losses, either, so it accumulated points steadily, and when the 44th stage game was over, it was provisionally in the third position which would enable promotion to J1. But on October 13, a sudden announcement was made about the dismissal of manager MINOBE and the appointment of General Director Hisashi KATO as manager. After that, the team kept the possibility of automatic promotion to J1 until the final game, but eventually finished third. As the result of playing a J. League Promotion/Demotion Series against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the club qualified to be promoted to J1 in 2008.

When the club appointed General Director Hisashi KATO as manager for the first time, it intended to treat him as an interim manager for the remaining seven games (in the end, nine games including Promotion/Demotion Series), but partly because he succeeded in promotion to J1, the club decided that KATO would remain as manager for the next season.

In the 2008 season, the club carried out active reinforcement with reflection and regret from the previous promotion. The club got competent players for each position to begin to play in J1 after an interval of two years; for example, GK Yuichi MIZUTANI from Kashiwa Reysol, DF Sidiclei de SOUZA who had come back to Sanga from Gamba Osaka after an interval of 9 seasons, DF Tatsuya MASUSHIMA on loan from F.C. Tokyo, MF Yuto SATO from JEF United Ichihara Chiba, and FW Atsushi YANAGISAWA from Kashima Antlers.
Also in the middle of the season, the club got DF Hiroki MIZUMOTO from Gamba Osaka to stabilize the defense, and FW Eldis Fernando DAMASIO "Fernandinho" from Shimizu S-PULSE to make up for FW Paulinho who had broken away because of injury for a long term (and whose name was crossed off the registration list.)
It might be considered the result of reinforcement that the team drew the game with Omiya Ardija on November 30, 2008, and achieved the minimum aim of remaining in J1. Although the team lost the final game against Shimizu S-PULSE, it finished the 2008 season in 14th place.

In the 2009 season too, the club carried out active reinforcement. It got competent players such as Yohei TOYODA who had been a member of the Japan U-23 national football team for the Beijing Olympic Games, Diego de SOUZA GAMA SILVA from Tokyo Verdy and Jung-Soo LEE who was a member of the Korea Republic national football team. Moreover, it got Tatsuya MASUSHIMA, who had been on loan, on a permanent deal. Furthermore, Paulinho whose name had been crossed off the registration list because of injury in the middle of the last season returned to the fold.

Transition of the name of the club

1922 - 1953: Kyoto Shiko (紫郊, meaning "purple suburbs") Club
1954 - 1992: Kyoto Shiko (紫光, meaning "purple light") Club (still remaining as an amateur club now)
1993: Kyoikukenkyusha FC Kyoto Purple Sanga
1994 - 2006: Kyoto Purple Sanga
2007 - : Kyoto Sanga F.C.

By the way, Sanga is derived from a word (sangha) in Sanskrit that stands for "association" or "group."
(In this connection, it is written as 僧伽 [sougya] in Chinese characters, which has later changed into 僧 [sou, meaning a Buddhist priest] at present.)
The name of the team, Kyoto Purple Sanga, was composed by combining Purple in Kyoto Shiko Club and Sanga.

Prospects for the future
As for the problems to be solved from now on, to say nothing of doing a good job in J1, it can be pointed out that the club should reconstruct not only the club itself but also the relation to the hometown Kyoto. Once, when the former manager HASHIRATANI resigned his position, he delivered a comment that "people in Kyoto prefer the first class" to make sarcastic remarks about the cold-heartedness of all around him including the local people, and left Kyoto. The club did not go on doing nothing against the present state of things, and made a lot of efforts to become a community-based club: for example, holding football schools, making the players participate in Kumin Matsuri (district festivals, which differ in names according to administrative districts, such as "Fureai Matsuri") opened in each administrative district of Kyoto City including Kyoto Matsuri (Kyoto Festival), and giving the presentation of the new uniform at Kyoto Nishiki Food Market called the Kitchen of Kyo. It was because these activities were effective, the games were favored by comparatively good weather in the 2008 season, and the team was able to remain in J1 finally, that the average number of spectators per game was recorded as being higher than 13,000 (including a home game held in Kamoike). Since the promotion to J1 in 2008, the club has carried out a lot of campaign projects with the local businesses and the like. Besides, the club named the outside area of Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium "Friends Square" to permit the spectators to reenter there, and has made use of the area to work on various approaches to increase attendance, such as carrying out a photo session of the players or other events, setting up booths to sell food and drink, and so on.

Speaking about attention and appeal by the mass media, a local newspaper, the Kyoto Shimbun, uses a full page of sports section to carry a forecast of formation, prospects for the game, manager's talk, players' comments, etc. one or two days in advance of the game. And a local independent broadcasting station, Kyoto Broadcasting System Company Limited, has been broadcasting prerecorded or live on terrestrial television all the home games of Kyoto Sanga which is the sole club that enjoys such services in all the J. League clubs, and that fulfillment is far ahead of all others. Also in the case of a relay by Sky PerfecTV!, Kyoto Sanga has sent in commentators and pitch reporters who are closely related to itself as a means of cooperation, and has obtained home advantage thanks to their strong personalities. Formerly, the sports newspapers in Osaka did not deal with Kyoto Sanga so favorably in their football sections, but their treatments have been improved considerably since enrollment of YANAGISAWA and appearance of MIYAYOSHI. There is something solid in support by the local media such as NHK Kyoto Broadcasting Station, Kyoto Broadcasting System Company Limited, and Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper Corporation Limited.

Because the home stadium of Kyoto Sanga, the field and track and ball game field, Kyoto Nishikyogoku Athletic Park Stadium, has a structural problem that the track for track-and-field events separates spectators from the field, and the smallness of its premises makes it difficult to expand it further, construction of a dedicated stadium for football has been desired for a long time. But while the plan to utilize the premises of Kyoto City Yokooji Sports Park was considered at first, on June 26, 2006 "Committee for consideration on a football stadium" (the chairman was Yasushi MATSUYAMA, Kyosho Kyoto Sports Promotion Special Committee Chairman) made public the final report that said "carrying out that plan will be difficult" because of the problems with traffic access and the construction budget. Therefore, it was decided that repair of Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium should be mainly considered hereafter.

In 2006 and 2007, the income and expenditure reports of the J. League clubs revealed that their incomes depended on the ad rate on a very large scale, so that it can be said that in the present situation the clubs are able to retain highly-paid players with financial support by each sponsor company.
(Kyoto Sanga depended on the ad rate for 63% of all the income in 2006, and this dependence was as prominent as that of Kawasaki in the J. League, but the ad rate per spectator was much more than that of Kawasaki.)
In order to improve this, the club dared to raise the ticket prices in 2009. Although there were arguments for and against it, the club explained that the raise was necessary to change the income structure of the club from now on in the Supporters Conference before the season.

As a subordinate organization (cultivation organization), the club has maintained the U-15s for the junior high school generation and U-18s for the senior high school generation, and both of them have won national titles before and produced many players. As there used to be neither a private training ground nor lighting facilities, and the players used to use the nearby Taiyogaoka or other grounds for training, the former manager HASHIRATANI appealed eagerly to the executives of the club to improve the cultivation organization by giving the example of the Sanfrecce Hiroshima youth team cooperating with a local senior high school. As a result of that, it was decided that they would realize a plan called Scholar-Athlete Project, unlike anything else in Japan, and in which the Kyocera Corporation from industry, the Ritsumeikan Academy from the education world, and Kyoto Sanga F.C. from the civilian world cooperate with one another to train excellent persons who will be accepted in the world. According to the plan, students of the senior high school generation study at Ritsumeikan Uji High School, practice football on the artificial grass ground (lighting fully-equipped) dedicated to the nurturing organization in Sanga Town Joyo, and live in a dormitory built by Kyoto Sanga F.C. School expenses are covered by Ritsumeikan, and dormitory and food expenses are covered by Kyoto Sanga F.C. completely. The project began in the 2006 school year, and in the 2008 school year when Scholar students moved up to the third grade for the first time, it was regrettable that no one was promoted to the top team, but all the students were able to go on to Ritsumeikan University. In the 2009 school year, the club invited Taiga SUGASAWA as the new manager of the U-18 team who had gained achievements in the lower levels of the organizations of Tokyo Verdy and Nagoya Grampus, so it was expected that the club would concentrate its efforts as a nurturing organization.

Home stadium

Since 1996 when the team was promoted to the J. League, it has played almost all home games in Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium.

It is an annual custom for the club to host two or three home games in Kagoshima Prefectural Kamoike Stadium per year (it is because the Kokubu factory of Kyocera is located in Kirishima City [the former Kokubu City], and the club carries out spring training and preseason matches also in Kokubu Stadium.)

The club formerly hosted home games in Ishikawa Western Green Park Stadium, Toyama Athletic Recreation Park Stadium, Tottori Soccer Stadium, Okayama Combined Ground Athletic Stadium, Kochi Prefectural Haruno Athletic Recreation Park Stadium, and Kumamoto City Suizenji Stadium, too. In 2007, the club also hosted a home game in Technoport Fukui Stadium.

In 1996, the club played one home game in Osaka Expo '70 Stadium which is originally the home stadium for Gamba Osaka (for the details, please refer to Episode and Examples of suspension of the J. League games.)

In the Japan Football League days, the club played home games not only in Nishikyogoku but also in Takaragaike Park Ball Game Ground, Kyoto Prefectural Yamashiro Comprehensive Sports Park and Ojiyama Athletic Stadium.

Training ground

A private training ground Sanga Town Joyo opened in 1998 is located in Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture. There are three futsal courts there, and individuals not concerned with the club can use them by making a reservation.

Until 1997, the club had been using Kyocera Yokaichi general playground located in Higashiomi City (at that time, Yokaichi City), Shiga Prefecture as a training ground.

Mascot character
Pasa kun and Kotono chan. They were designed with a motif of Hoo and Fushicho (both are imaginary birds like a phoenix).

First suspension of a J. League game
On August 14, 1996, a Nabisco Cup game against Kashiwa Reysol (played in Oita City Athletic Stadium as a home game of Sanga) was suspended because of a typhoon. In the history of the J. League, where games are played in principle even if it rains, this is the first case where an official game was suspended. See also Examples of suspension of the J. League games.

Home game played in a home stadium of the other club
The substitute game for the game against Reysol was played on August 24 in the same year, but Kyoto Sanga used Osaka Expo '70 Stadium which is officially the home stadium of Gamba Osaka. At that time the team was not able to use its official home stadium Nishikyogoku because re-laying work on the pitch was in progress, and therefore, it hosted the game in Expo '70 Stadium with the permission of Gamba.

As a similar case, the Yokohama Derby match between Yokohama F. Marinos and Yokohama Flugels on June 11, 1994 (played in Hiratsuka Athletics Stadium which is the home stadium of Shonan Bellmare) can be provided.

Relation to Yokohama Flugels
When Yokohama Flugels disappeared, six players, one coach and one other staff member transferred their registrations to Sanga. Since there were three players who had already transferred from Flugels, and on the opening of the 1999 season, no fewer than 11 coach, players and staff who had transferred from Flugels belonged to Sanga.
At that time, only six players transferred their registrations from Flugels to Yokohama F. Marinos which was the official merging partner, so some people joked, "I don't know which is a real 'F'?"
With a background situation like this, quite a few former Flugels supporters became Sanga supporters.

In this connection, after the merger with Marinos was made public in October, 1998, Flugels won all the following official games, and also won the last official game, the Emperor's Cup final to round off its career respectably. However, in the league game just before the announcement of the merger, Flugels played against Sanga and lost by the score 2-3 (on October 24, 1998, in Kagoshima Prefectural Kamoike Stadium). That is to say, the team against which Flugels lost the last official game was Sanga.

Four years had passed since then and on New Year's Day in 2003, Sanga acquired its first title by winning the Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament. It was Gert ENGELS who served as manager of Sanga at that time, who had been the last manager of Flugels, and who had led the team to victory in the last official game for Flugels, the Emperor's Cup final on New Year's Day in 1999, and made the team round off its career by winning the Emperor's Cup.

Relation to Avispa Fukuoka
The club experienced promotion and demotion together with Avispa Fukuoka four times.

1992: JFL Division 2 -> the former JFL Division 1
1995: JFL -> J. League
2005: J2 -> J1
2006: J1 -> J2

By the way, the team against which Sanga played games in which it was decided to be demoted to J2 two of three times was Gamba Osaka.

Besides, when Sanga was registered as a member of J2, it was promoted in the year when it got a player who had belonged to Avispa Fukuoka in the previous year.

2001: Kiyotaka ISHIMARU, Yusaku UENO
2005: Kenichiro META
2007: Takashi HIRAJIMA

Same members throughout the year
In 2001 when the club was promoted to J2 for the first time, absolutely no player joined nor left midway from the opening game on March 10 to the final game on November 18.

However, a former member of the Poland national football team, Piotr SOWISZ who joined this year was not even crossed off the player registration list, but went back to his country in the middle of the season, so it must be thought that he "left midway through the year."

Balancing Gozan Okuribi and lighting of the stadium
Every year, one of the summer features of Kyoto, Daimonji Gozan Okuribi/the Great Bonfire Event (Mountain Bon Fire) is held on August 16.
Because Kyoto City requests cooperation to exercise self-control over lighting such as neon signs and illuminations that day, if the day on which Sanga would host a home game fell on August 16, it coped with the request as follows:

A case of the J. League in 1997
The 5th section of the J. League 2nd Stage was scheduled for August 16 Saturday, but only the game between Sanga and Yokohama Marinos was carried out a day earlier on August 15 Friday (kicked off at 19:00 in Nishikyogoku). Sanga scored an opening goal, but then got turned around and lost the game in the end (Kyoto 1-4 Yokohama).

A case of the J. League in 2007
The 34th section of the J. League Division 2 was held on August 16 Thursday, but only the game (in Nishikyogoku) between Sanga and Consadole Sapporo kicked off at 17:20, starting at twilight. As a result, Sanga got turned around and the lost the game yet again by the score Kyoto 2-3 Sapporo.

[Original Japanese]