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Revolt to force Japan FA boss out of office

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-07-23 22:19:35

TOKYO: The head of Japan`s football association, who is spearheading the country`s bid for the 2022 World Cup, is to quit following a boardroom revolt over his "forceful" rule, press reports said Saturday.

Motoaki Inukai, 68, is expected to be replaced as Japan Football Association (JFA) president by his deputy and longtime FIFA executive committee member Junji Ogura, 71, in a vote on Sunday, the reports said.

Inukai, whose two-year term was to conclude at the end of this month, had previously sought a second stint while pushing Japan`s campaign to stage the World Cup again after co-hosting the 2002 edition with South Korea.

But only a "small number" of the JFA`s 25 executives reportedly supported him in an unsigned vote of confidence conducted before the World Cup in South Africa, where Japan unexpectedly reached the last 16 for the first time on foreign soil.

The result has prompted a 10-member panel, tasked with nominating candidates for top JFA posts, to drop Inukai despite his immense influence in the association and pick the moderate and internationally-known Ogura.

Inukai is to continue as head of the 2022 bid committee.

The influential Asahi Shimbun commented: "President Inukai, known for his forceful approach, has at times done business without securing sufficient consensus within the organisation."

The upheaval comes just days after a FIFA inspection team praised Japan`s World Cup bid, which includes a plan for 3-D match telecasts.

"Japan`s advance to the round of 16 at South Africa 2010 has not worked to his (Inukai`s) advantage. His unpopularity in the association has remained while the idea emerged to promote widely trusted vice president Ogura," the daily Sankei Shimbun said.

Since taking over from long-serving Saburo Kawabuchi as JFA chief, Inukai has campaigned to change the J-League`s spring-autumn season to synchronise with Europe`s autumn-spring season.

But J-League chairman Kenji Onitake has opposed the change as many domestic clubs prefer not to play in midwinter in snow-bound areas.

Inukai, a former president of J-League club Urawa Red Diamonds, has also pushed for footballing exchages with Spain and other powerhouses to develop young talent at home.

Ogura, who managed a football club at Furukawa Electric Co before the J-League`s launch in 1993, joined the JFA in 1991.

He was instrumental in Japan`s successful joint bid with South Korea for the 2002 World Cup.

Ogura took the post of JFA vice president in 1998 and has been a member of the FIFA executive committee since 2002, a post he will leave next year.

Last month, he received the FIFA Order of Merit for his contribution to football.

BDST: 1932hrs, July 24, 2010

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