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It was case of “anything you can do, I can do better” for Japan’s women footballers as they defied the odds to lift the World Cup just six months after the country’s men had captured a record fourth Asian title.
When Saki Kumagai slotted home the winning penalty in a dramatic shootout victory over the United States in Frankfurt on Sunday, Japan completed an astonishing run that overshadowed any achievement by an Asian soccer team at any level.
“There is no happier president than a World Cup winner,” Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura said after the side had rallied twice to force extra time and a penalty shootout, which they won 3-1.
“The players demonstrated the wonders of Japanese women.”
With their women crowned world champions and the “Blue Samurai” currently on top in Asia, envious eyes will be cast at Japan from their continental rivals to far beyond.
Standard Chartered bucks the trend of banks making a dash from sports sponsorship deals and will pay $130 million to put its name on Liverpool Football Club's shirts for four years from next summer. It is one of the most lucrative deals in soccer history.But AIG, Citi, RBS and Northern Rock offer a stark reminder that big sports deals can be high-profile signals of waste. AIG sponsored Manchester United and RBS and ING pumped millions into Formula One, and Northern Rock was better known to millions as the sponsor of Newcastle F.C. than as a mortgage bank -- until its collapse.Citi raised anger after sticking with a controversial $400 million deal with baseball team the New York Mets. All those banks needed taxpayer rescue funds.Critics say big sports deals can reflect poor corporate governance and misguided priorities. Advisory firm Advisor Perspectives this year said a study of 69 U.S. sports "naming rights" deals showed the performance of the companies buying the rights trailed the S&P 500 index by almost 5 percent over the course of the deal.But it could be a good fit for StanChart, which gets 80 percent of its profits in Asia. Liverpool is a big, iconic name in Asia and English Premier League games are screened into millions of homes each week. The prize for the bank is not the domestic or European fields where Liverpool has enjoyed regular success, but the potential customers in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and across the region.At least there can be few complaints the bank's board is following its heart. Former chairman and CEO Mervyn Davies was a staunch Spurs supporter, current CEO Peter Sands is an avid Arsenal fan and Finance Director Richard Meddings may have struggled to find a global reach with a deal with his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.