Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japanese: サンフレッチェ広島, romanized: Sanfuretche Hiroshima) is a Japanese professional football club based in Asaminami-ku, Hiroshima. The club plays in the J1 League, which is the top tier of football in the country.
As Mazda team
The club was a former company team of Toyo Kogyo Soccer Club (東洋工業サッカー部) in 1938 and played in the semi-professional Japan Soccer League.
The club was an original founder ("Original Eight") of the now-disbanded Japan Soccer League (JSL) in 1965. They dominated the JSL's early years, winning the title 4 times in a row – a feat that was later equaled by Yomiuri SC/Verdy Kawasaki. The name change was made at Mazda SC (マツダSC) in 1981. When JSL disbanded and became the J.League in 1992, it dropped the company name and became "Sanfrecce Hiroshima". Alongside JEF United Ichihara Chiba and Urawa Red Diamonds they co-founded both leagues ("Original Ten").
During the 1969 season they participated in the Asian Club Cup, forerunner to today's AFC Champions League; at the time, the tournament was done in a single locale (in that year it was Bangkok, Thailand), and they ended up in third place, the first participation of a Japanese club in the continental tournament. This also cost them the league title to Mitsubishi/Urawa, and although they won another title in 1970, since then the club has been out of the running for the title, with exceptional seasons such as 1994 when they won runner-up.
1965 Inaugural League Champion
The Toyo Industries that became the first JSL champions also completed the first double by taking the Emperor's Cup. They were also the first of three "Invincibles", undefeated champion clubs in Japan (the others were Mitsubishi in 1969 and Yamaha in 1987–88), although only Toyo completed a double.
Matsumoto, Ogi, and Yasuyuki Kuwahara went on to win the 1968 Olympic bronze medal for the national team.
In 2002, Sanfrecce became the first former stage winner (first stage, 1994) to be relegated to the lower division, J2. But it only spent a year there, finishing second the very next season to regain promotion back to J1. The club finished 16th in the 2007 season and were relegated to J.League Division 2 after they were beaten by Kyoto Sanga in the promotion/relegation play-off. In 2008 they nevertheless won the J2 title at the first attempt, having 84 points (a difference of 25 points with the runner-up clubs) with six matches left.
By virtue of earning fourth place in the 2009 season and Gamba Osaka retaining the Emperor's Cup, Sanfrecce qualified for the Asian Champions League, where they were knocked out in the group phase.
On 24 November 2012, Sanfrecce defeated Cerezo Osaka 4–1 to seal their first ever J.League Division 1 title.
On 7 December 2013, Sanfrecce defeated Kashima Antlers 2–0, securing their second J.League Division 1 title following a thrilling finish to the season which saw first-place Yokohama F. Marinos losing their final league game, handing Sanfrecce the title. With their second consecutive title win, Sanfrecce became the second club to successfully defend their crown since Kashima Antlers in 2009.
This page also has a version in other languages: Санфречче Хиросима (русский)