All Japan Senior Football Championship
The All Japan Senior Football Championship (Japanese: 全国社会人サッカー選手権大会, Hepburn: Zenkoku Shakaijin Sakkā Senshuken Taikai) is a football (soccer) cup competition in Japan. It is run by the Japan Football Association. As it only involves non-league teams (teams not affiliated to either J.League or the Japan Football League), it can be considered an equivalent of the FA Trophy or FA Vase in England.
|Number of teams||32|
|Current champions||FC Tiamo Hirakata|
|Most successful club(s)||Urawa Club|
Tokyo Musashino City FC
(2 titles each)
The "Shakaijin" or "Zensha" as it is known, was first established in 1965 to determine potential entrants to the Japan Soccer League. The winner and runner-up played off in a promotion and relegation series against the bottom two clubs of the JSL. This continued even after the JSL added a Second Division in 1972. Since 1977, however, there is a system called the "Regional Football League Competition" to promote new league entrants (to the JSL 2nd Division, the former Japan Football League, and the current Japan Football League), thus the "Shakaijin" is now effectively a non-league cup competition. The 1999 edition was the only one to feature teams from the current JFL; otherwise, all participant clubs have been from the regional leagues.
The format is a week-long elimination tournament in a host locale (originally a single city, now a major metropolitan area) chosen by the JFA beforehand, and the best clubs of the regional leagues (currently 32 entrants) qualify. The final takes place in a major stadium in the largest host city or prefectural capital. The winner automatically qualifies to the Regional Promotion Series (runners-up and third places may also qualify depending on berth availability).
Many former Shakaijin winners are now J.League members, so the cup, despite no longer guaranteeing promotion, is considered a crucial stepping stone by ambitious clubs.