For it’s ability to rebound from the March 11th disaster and produce a World Cup winning women’s national team and solid men’s national team which won the Asian Cup, not to mention the successful holding of the FIFA Club World Championships last December, the Japan Football association was awarded with FIFA’s Fair Play award. The award recognizes good or sporting behaviour or other actions by people or bodies involved in association football around the world.
For steadily guiding the Nadeshiko Japan women’s soccer team to an amazing World Cup, Norio Sasaki won Women’s Coach of the Year. He has been with the national team in one capacity or another since 2006, taking on the role of head coach in 2007. In addition to the 2011 World Cup, under Sasaki’s leadership the women’s national team had won the 2008 East Asian Football Championship and were the semi-finalists at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
For her outstanding play throughout 2011, Homare Sawa was awarded the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2011. In 2011 she captained Nadeshiko to Japan’s first ever World Cup title and in the process took home the Golden Boot for most goals scored during the tournament (5) and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s MVP. Sawa received 28.51% of the votes besting Marta (17.28%) who had won the award the previous five years.
After the ceremony FIFA interviewed Sawa and asked her to choose a special moment from 2011.
“That’s difficult, but I think it has to be winning the Women’s World Cup in Germany. That success came just a few months after the terrible earthquake that hit Japan. Many people suffered enormously. And although all we did was win a football competition, so many people told us that our victory raised their spirits and gave them the courage to carry on. Helping my compatriots to feel that way made me very happy indeed.”