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Fields of Individuals and Neoliberal Logics: Japanese Soccer Ideals and the 1990s Economic Crisis.

This article explores the relationship between popular representations of soccer and the rise of neoliberal discourse celebrating a new individualism in Japan at the turn of the millennium, a time when the country experienced sharp economic decline and consequent economic restructuring. Examining dominant vocabularies and practices present in coaching discourse, on soccer fields, and in media portrayals of Japanese men’s and women’s professional leagues, the author argues that rather than a coincidental, coeval mirroring between two seemingly unrelated realms—sports and economic transformations—these relationships point to the positioning of soccer over the past 20 years in Japan as a site to educate and physically train individualistic sensibilities and perspectives suitable to and reinforcing of a neoliberal labor market and governmental system.