WE League

Last updated
Women Empowerment League
WE League Japan logo.svg
Founded3 June 2020;12 months ago (2020-06-03)
First season 2021–22
Country Japan
Confederation AFC
Number of teams 11
Level on pyramid 1
Domestic cup(s) Empress's Cup
International cup(s) AFC Club Championship
Website weleague.jp
Current: 2021–22 WE League season

The Women Empowerment League (日本女子サッカーリーグ), or simply WE League (WEリーグ[うぃーりーぐ]), will be the top flight of women's association football in Japan, starting from the 2021–22 season. It will be the first fully-professional women's football league in Japan.



On 3 June 2020, the Japan Football Association announced the formation of the WE League to become Japan's new top-flight, professional women's football league. [1] The semi-professional Nadeshiko League will become the second level on the women's football pyramid in Japan once the WE League begins play in the autumn of 2021. Each team in the WE League must have at least five players signed to fully professional contracts that are not subject to a salary cap. [2]

17 clubs applied to join the WE League; eight to ten of them would be admitted and the results to be announced in October 2020. [3] On 15 October 2020, 11 clubs were announced as founding members of the WE League, including seven with J. League affiliations. [4]

Competition format

The WE League's inaugural season in 2021–22 will feature 11 teams, playing a double round-robin, home-and-away competition. Unlike the Nadeshiko League, the WE League will play a winter season that conforms with most European leagues. [5]

Similar to the American National Women's Soccer League, there will be no relegation from the WE League to the Nadeshiko League, but teams may be promoted from the latter in the first several seasons for the WE League to reach a desired number of teams. [5]


2021–22 season

The following 11 clubs will compete in the WE League during its inaugural, 2021–22 season. [4]

in 2020
First season in
top division
First season in
WE League
First season of
current spell in
top division
recent top
division title
Mynavi Sendai 20132021–2220130
Urawa Reds 19992021–22199942020
Omiya Ardija Ventus 2021–222021–222021–220
Elfen Saitama 20022021–222021–220
JEF United Chiba 20002021–2220090
NTV Tokyo Verdy Beleza 19892021–221989172019
Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara 20172021–2220170
AC Nagano Parceiro 20032021–222021–220
Albirex Niigata 20072021–2220070
INAC Kobe Leonessa 20062021–22200632013
Sanfrecce Hiroshima Regina 2021–222021–222021–22

See also

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  1. "Japan's first ever Women's Professional Football League, [WE League] to kick off in autumn 2021". JFA. 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  2. "Soccer: New Japan women's pro competition dubbed 'WE League'". The Mainichi. 3 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. Orlowitz, Dan (1 August 2020). "WE League receives unexpectedly high number of applicants for inaugural season". Japan Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  4. 1 2 Orlowitz, Dan (15 October 2020). "Japan women's pro soccer WE League reveals 11 clubs for first season". Japan Times. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  5. 1 2 "Football: New women's pro competition dubbed "WE League"". Kyodo News. 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.