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Japanese Soccer Personalities

Sumioki NITTA

Japan Football Hall of Fame

2nd group of inductees, 2006
Born on January 14, 1897 in Hokkaido, as Miitsumaru
Graduates from Tokyo Imperial University
Heavily involved in many aspects of JFA foundation in 1921, including organisation, operation, translation of the laws of the game, and production of coaching manuals. Contributes to creation of All-Japan Championship Tournament (now Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament), thereby creating cornerstones for Japanese soccer. Founds four-school University and Specialist School League in 1922 (becomes Tokyo College League from 1924), and All-Japan High School Football Tournament in 1923, laying the foundations for the continued strengthening of student soccer.
Appointed to JFA board of directors in 1935. In charge of finances ahead of following year's Olympic Games in Berlin, engaging in raising of funds to send athletes overseas. Performs role of director of training at 11th Meiji Shrine National Sports Tournament in 1940.
After the war, appointed standing director in 1962. Involved in venue construction and other preparations ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, contributing to the success of the event.
Also known as foremost authority in research of history of soccer in Japan, visiting FIFA and Football Association in England to compile own materials, and producing "The Steps of Japanese Soccer (published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Japan Football Association)" (Kodansha, 1974) as the result of his investigation into Japanese soccer history.
Also strongly involved in recovery of Japanese sport after the war, as member of board of directors of Japan Sports Association (JASA). Serves as go-between for JASA and JFA, and contributes to obtaining of imperial endorsement of Emperor's Cup.
Awarded 5th class Order of the Rising Sun in 1972
Passes away in 1984
Elected into Japan Football Hall of Fame as part of second group of inductees in 2006.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum


Creates history and tells history from founding of JFA

Sumioki Nitta was involved with Japanese soccer and with the JFA (Japan Football Association) for an extremely long period of time, from the foundation of the JFA to the dramatic turnaround victory in Berlin, the recovery after the war, and the Olympic Games in both Tokyo and Mexico City.

He also conducted a detailed investigation of the development of the sport in Japan, compiling and publishing "The Steps of Japanese Soccer" on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the JFA in 1970. He was, in a sense, the true historian of the association, and would teach us all the trick of learning new things by studying the old.

As may be inferred from the name Nitta, his family were the noble ancestors of Yoshisada Nitta, who had taken down the Kamakura shogunate of Takatori Hojo in the Kenmu Restoration, and of direct vassals of the Tokugawa family.

Nitta was born in 1897, 23 years before myself. He was a true child of Edo, taking the elite route from the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Elementary School to the similarly affiliated Junior High School, and then from First High School on to the University of Tokyo.

He first came into contact with soccer in his sixth year of elementary school, and became passionate about the sport during his time at the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School. He met Yuzuru Nozu (later the 4th president of the JFA) after entering First High School, and from his days at the University of Tokyo, worked towards the founding of the JFA and the organisation of the 1st All-Japan Championship Tournament (now Emperor's Cup). After graduating in metallurgy from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, he joined Mitsubishi Mining Company and was parted from the JFA for a while when sent to work in Sado, but was appointed to the JFA board of directors upon his return to Tokyo, and focused his attention on the raising of funds to send players to the forthcoming Berlin Olympics.

Nitta donated profits of over two thousand yen (at the time, enough money to purchase a sizeable home) from a symphony performance, with the event managing to make money because Nitta himself had paid the performers' appearance fees.

After the war, Nitta became a schoolteacher, and even coached the soccer club at Koga First High School, but in 1958 became involved in competition organisation at the 3rd Asian Games, and then led the preparatory committee at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. As well as his wide range of knowledge, everybody was highly complimentary about Nitta's punctilious way of working, for he would continue to pursue further studies throughout his daily work. He compiled old Olympic records for Association publications, and called for the correct usage of terminology.

In order to compile together the progression of Japanese soccer that he had experienced and been involved in, he joined the editing committee of "The Steps of Japanese Soccer", which was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the JFA. Nitta and his young colleagues were finally able to publish their work in 1974.

While most people had wished the Japanese team luck as they departed for the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968, Nitta had "emphasised fair play", and the concepts of friendship with other footballers and of fair play are mentioned sporadically throughout this book. These "Steps", which remain almost as the testament of Sumioki Nitta, have been an important work for me in my career.


  • 14 January 1897 - Born in Hakodate to mother Kiku and father Sumitaka Nitta.
  • 1899 - Moves to Tokyo due to his father's judiciary work.
  • April 1903 - Enters the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Elementary School. Learns the basics of football in his sixth year.
  • April 1910 - Enters the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School, where he develops a true passion for football.
  • April 1916 - Enters the First High School (old system).
  • April 1919 - Enters Tokyo Imperial University's Faculty of Engineering.
  • 1920 - As a member of the football committee of the Greater Japan Sports Association, invests his efforts into the founding of the Greater Japan Football association and the hosting of the 1st All-Japan Championship Tournament the following year.
  • April 1922 - Graduates in metallurgy from the Faculty of Engineering at Tokyo Imperial University. Joins Mitsubishi Mining Company and is sent to work in the mines in Sado.
  • August 1934 - Starts work at the Mitsubishi Mining Company head office in Tokyo. Sits on the JFA board in 1935 and 1936.
  • Spring 1936 - Raises funds to send players to the forthcoming Berlin Olympic Games.
  • 1940 - Coaches players as JFA standing director and as head of the players' training camp at the 11th Meiji Shrine National Sports Tournament.
  • 1947 - Serves as councillor and member of the board of the Japan Sports Association (until 1947).
  • 1949 - Coaches the football team as teacher at Furukawa First High School (until 1954).
  • May 1958 - Works on the operating committee for the football competition at the 3rd Asian Games.
  • May 1962 - Named as member of the operating committee for the football competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games (serves until October 1964).
  • 1963 - Named as JFA standing director (serves until 1971).
  • 29 April 1972 - Awarded 5th class Order of the Rising Sun for his successes in promoting the spread of football throughout Japan.
  • February 1974 - Heads the editing committee for the publication of "The Steps of Japanese Soccer" (Kodansha).
  • April 1976 - Appointed as official advisor to the JFA.
  • 1 August 1984 - Passes away.