Yokohama FC (横浜FC, Yokohama Efushi) is a Japanese professional football club based in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, part of the Greater Tokyo Area. The club currently plays in the J1 League, which is the top tier of football in the country. The club was formed by fans of Yokohama Flugels as a protest against Flugels' merger with Yokohama Marinos in 1999, becoming the first supporter-owned professional sports team in Japan.
Since gaining J.League membership in 2001, Yokohama FC spent a long time in the second tier of the Japanese football league system. The club gained promotion to J.League Division 1 for 2007 season, as champions of J.League Division 2 in 2006, but were immediately relegated the following season. After twelve years in the J2 League, they returned to the top flight in the 2020 season, earning promotion the previous year.
Yokohama FC was formed in 1999 following the merger of Yokohama's two J.League clubs, the Flugels and the Marinos. Flugels supporters felt that their club had essentially been dissolved rather than merged with, so rejected the suggestion that they should start supporting Marinos – who had been their crosstown rivals. Instead, with money raised through donations from the general public and an affiliation with talent management company IMG, the former Flugels supporters founded the Yokohama Fulie Sports Club. Following the socio model used by FC Barcelona, the Fulie Sports Club created Yokohama FC, the first professional sports team in Japan owned and operated by its supporters.
For its first season in 1999, Yokohama FC hired former German national team and World Cup star Pierre Littbarski to be the manager and Yasuhiko Okudera, the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, to be the chairman. The club attempted to gain entry directly into the professional J.League, but the Japan Football Association only permitted entry to the amateur Japan Football League (JFL), at the time the third level of the Japanese football league system, and ruled that the club would not be eligible for promotion into J.League Division 2 at the end of its first season. So, despite finishing as JFL champion in 1999, Yokohama FC finished as JFL champion again in 2000 before being promoted to J.League Division 2.
The club spent the next 6 seasons in J.League Division 2 before finishing as champions in 2006 and gaining promotion to J.League Division 1. In 2007, just the ninth year of its existence, Yokohama FC played its first season in the top flight of Japanese football. After a poor season, the team were consigned to relegation with five games of the season still remaining. Despite their early relegation, Yokohama FC nevertheless decided the final outcome at the opposite end of the table; by defeating title contenders Urawa Red Diamonds on the last day of the season, Kashima Antlers secured the J.League Division 1 title.
In 2018, Yokohama FC narrowly missed out on automatic promotion by goal difference. The team made it to the J2 promotion final, losing to Tokyo Verdy on an stoppage time winner. In 2019, Yokohama finished second in J2 and gained automatic promotion to J1.
This page also has a version in other languages: Иокогама (русский)