After a two month delay, the Nadeshiko League officially returned on 18 July 2020. The league’s top two divisions began their opening weekend with matches behind closed doors. However, plans are in place to allow spectators as early as 1 August.
When the spread of COVID-19 worsened worldwide in early 2020, the Nadeshiko League reevaluated the start of its 32nd season. Following much deliberation, the league settled on the mid-July start date.
In the lead-up to the season, the league conducted PCR tests for all players and club staff. Samples collected in the final round of testing came back negative, indicating that the season was good to proceed.
League Storylines and Future
Opening weekend kicked-off with a division two clash between Nittaidai and Yamato Sylphid. The game ended as a 1–1 draw, which contributed to the 30 goals scored over the weekend across both divisions.
Last year’s first division champions Nippon TV Beleza, are on a hot streak. The 17-time champions have won the league during the last five seasons. Returning stars include goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita and midfielder Mizuho Sakaguchi. Last year’s golden boot winner, forward Mina Tanaka, has since moved to INAC Kobe.Embed from Getty Images
While the season is happening under unique global circumstances, Beleza is still expected to be the team to beat. Urawa Red Diamonds could have what it takes to do just that, having missed the top spot by three points last season.
Whichever club it may be that claims the top spot this year, they will receive a unique distinction.
Next year, the Nadeshiko League will shift to become the second level of women’s football in Japan. The newly founded WE League will take its place at the top level as Japan’s first professional women’s league.
Where to Stream the Nadeshiko League
YouTube and MyCujoo have been important for the Nadeshiko League in recent years. Their broadcasting capabilities have helped expand the league’s reach on an international level.
Apart from live streaming matches for free, viewers can also replay completed games on both sites.
For a full schedule of games from all Nadeshiko League divisions, click here.