Photo: (L to R) Hiroaki Dei, Managing Executive Officer of J.League Digital Inc., Mitsuru Murai, Chairman of the Japan Professional Sports Association, Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, E-Commerce Company executive Shunsuke Yazawa.

Rakuten announced today that it will become the Official EC Platform Partner of Japan’s Professional Football League, the J.League. The partnership will see Rakuten redesign and run the league’s official online store, which sells official J.League club merchandise.

The Japan Football Museum hosts a wide variety of exhibits on the history of football in Japan.

The event was held at the Japan Football Museum, host to a wide variety of exhibits on the history of football in Japan.

Rakuten will work with the J.League to revitalize their online presence, with the sale of merchandise from J1, J2 and J3 league clubs. The store will be operated and supported by Rakuten, utilizing Rakuten Ichiba’s considerable expertise in online merchandizing and marketing.

The announcement was made today by Mr Mitsuru Murai, Chairman of the Japan Professional Sports Association, and Mickey Mikitani, Rakuten CEO, at a media conference at JFA House, home to the Japan Football Museum opened in 2003 to commemorate the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

 

(L to R) Hiroaki Dei, Mitsuru Murai, Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani and Shunsuke Yazawa on stage at the ceremony.

(L to R) Hiroaki Dei, Mitsuru Murai, Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani and Shunsuke Yazawa on stage at the ceremony.

 

Hiroaki Dei, Managing Executive Officer of J.League Digital Inc. and Rakuten E-Commerce Company executive Shunsuke Yazawa also fielded media questions about the partnership from the stage.

Sports and business have been a winning combination for Rakuten since 2004, when the company founded the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the first new professional Japanese baseball franchise in some 50 years. Since 2009, Rakuten has been sponsor of Japan’s only ATP tennis tournament, the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, and will also become a Main Global Partner of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most renowned football teams, from 2017.

 

Japan's national football squad shirts on display at the museum.

Japan’s national football squad shirts on display at the museum.

Rakuten’s relationship with the J.League was cemented in 2015, when the company acquired J.League football club Vissel Kobe. The club just finished its best season yet, and are aiming to go even further this year following the transfer of German football legend Lukas Podolski.

With such a deep involvement in the sporting world combined with 20 years of experience running Japan’s leading online marketplace, Rakuten is ideally positioned to bring the power of online shopping to professional sports and deliver memorable experiences for J.League fans around Japan.