Chairman – Japan Professional Football League


Mitsuru Murai became the 5th Chairman of the J.League in January 2014. While previous Chairmen were either former Japanese national team football players or were related to Professional Football clubs, Mr.Murai is the only one with corporate management experience.
Ever since taking office, he has made several reforms to the J.League, which have seen annual aggregate attendance go beyond 10 Million in 2015, the most in J.League history. The overall income (total of club sales and league revenue) that the league has earned has also grown to a scale that exceeds the past highest of JPY100 Billion. In addition to these reforms, the 53 clubs that make up the J.League were given thorough management guidance, which led to the elimination of clubs with excessive debt.
Also, clubs that were in debt for 3 consecutive years were dissolved in order to establish a league with sound management foundation around the world. Problems such as unpaid wages or delayed wages also do not exist. The J.League being a reputable league with zero incidents of Match-fixing or violence was chosen as a member of steering group to represent Asia at the newly founded “World Leagues Forum”, which is being approved by FIFA.
The main reforms that Mr.Murai implemented were the following
1) Digital reforms
He sanctioned the deployment of a common platform to integrate the digital infrastructure of all the 53 clubs that make up the J.League. By introducing a tracking system at every J1 game, complete digitization of game data was achieved.
2) Internationalization
Entering into a partnership agreement has made a significant contribution to the league management of 10 Asian countries (Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Iran, Qatar, Australia). Frequency of J.League games being broadcast in other Asian countries is also increasing.
3) Stadium Construction
He has sparked the construction of a number of new dedicated football stadiums as well as dedicated efforts to provide stadiums with wifi connectivity. He also acted as the director of the construction association that in 2015 oversaw the completion of the Suita Stadium in Osaka using only private funding. Besides, he works closely with NTT, a representative of digital companies in Japan, to improve sports environment for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Prior to being appointed as Chairman of the J.League, from 2011 to 2013 in merely 3 years he oversaw the launch of Recruit Business in 26 cities across Asia. As president of RGF Hong Kong Limited, he oversaw the acquisition of India’s largest Human Resources firm Stanton Chase India as well as China’s largest Human Resources Company Bo Le Associates Ltd. In that Asian market which is primarily dominated by Western styled Executive search firms such as Korn Ferry and Russell Reynolds, He helped establish a
Human Resources Business with Asian hands. Through his global business exploits he helped lay the foundation for Recruit Holdings which is currently one of the largest market capitalizations in Japan as the nation’s representative in the information industry.
From 2004 until 2011, before doing business across Asia, he served as president of the human resources company Recruit Career (part of Recruit Group) in Japan. He nurtured Japan’s largest human resources company during his tenure. However, his achievements were not limited only to financial success. His management style emphasised on job satisfaction for employees. ‘Great Place to Work’ is the world’s largest research institution which performs employee awareness survey in more than 50 countries around the world every year based on an annual survey results and publishes the ranking “company of job satisfaction”. In their 2007 1st survey, his company recorded the first place in Japan.
He graduated from the Waseda University School of Law. He played as a Goal Keeper for his High School football team. His family includes his wife, one daughter who lives in India and one son who lives in Japan.