August 11 saw a very special game take place in the Meiji Yasuda J1 League, as Sanfrecce Hiroshima hosted V-Varen Nagasaki for the first ever ‘Peace Match’.
In August 1945 Japan suffered the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and 73 years later the teams from those cities marked their maiden J1 contest by paying their respects to all those who lost their lives, as well as showing their appreciation for the fact they are now able to play football in a peaceful era.
Under the slogan, ‘One Ball. One World: Giving thanks for peace through sport’, the game was preceded by a remembrance ceremony, and both teams entered the pitch wearing commemorative shirts with the numbers 86 (6 August) and 89 (9 August) to mark the dates their respective cities were struck. In a further show of unity, Hiroshima’s were in the orange of Nagasaki’s uniform and Nagasaki’s in the purple of Hiroshima’s.
“The topic of atomic bombs is naturally horrific but we now live in peace, enabling us to play football,” Hiroshima president Takuya Yamamoto said. “I hope we can also convey that brightness to the supporters to make them smile.”
Nagasaki president Akira Takata was also keen to use the occasion to share a positive message.
“The Peace Match with Hiroshima is the game I’ve most been looking forward to since we were promoted to J1,” he said. “It’s a chance to spread peace not only in Japan, but around the entire world.”
The match itself ended 2-0 to Hiroshima, with Nagasaki-born Kosei Shibasaki opening the scoring and Teerasil Dangda adding the second.