Vissel Kobe is a professional soccer club in the J. League. Their home town is Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, and their home stadium is the Noevir Stadium Kobe.
The team was founded in 1966 under the name Kawasaki Steel Soccer Club and their home town at the time was Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture. In 1995, the club moved to Kobe and changed their name to Vissel Kobe.
In 1996, the former Denmark national team player Michael Laudrup, who previously played for Juventus FC and FC Barcelona, joined Vissel Kobe. After finishing 2nd in the Japan Football League (JFL), the team earned their right to play in the J. League starting from the 1997 season.
However, because of the Great Hanshin earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1995, the supermarket company Daiei that had their HQ in Kobe, stepped back as the team’s main sponsor.
After that the team continued to go through financial difficulties, losing money every year, as they weren’t able to find a new main sponsor.
This financial crisis made it difficult to acquire new talented players and overall morale. After Vissel Kobe promoted to the J. League, every year they kept sinking lower into the double digit positions.
In the middle of such circumstances, the CEO of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, who was born in Hyogo prefecture and also the representative of the Crimson football club, acquired the rights to Vissel on February 1, 2004.
Thanks to Mikitani’s heavy investments, the team acquired former Turkery national team player Ilhan Mansiz, former Cameroon national team player Patrick M’Boma, as well as former Japan national team players from other J. League clubs. Saddly, the situation didn’t improve and the team’s results were still sluggish.
The team relegated to J2 twice, first in 2006 and then in 2012. On top of that, both in the J. League Cup and the Emperor’s Cup, they were often eliminated in the early stages. To improve the situation, further investments were made into the team with the goal earning their first title and making it to the AFC Champions League.
When Nelsinho, who had twice led J. League clubs into the championships, was hired as the new manager in 2015, then on his second year, in 2016, he took Vissel up to 7th place, which was their highest position yet, and helped them reach their past best results.
In 2017, the team signed former German national team player Lukas Podolski from the Turkish team Galatasaray S.K. During the first half of the season, they were in a slump, but even though the manager was changed they were able to achieve decent results by the end of the season, with a 9th place finish in the regular season, and they managed to reach the quarter finals in the J. League Cup, and the semi finals in the Emperor’s Cup.
Moreover, because of their parent company, Rakuten’s, sponsor contract with FC Barcelona, the team was able to acquire Spanish national team’s midfielder Andres Iniesta in May of 2018,
Because Vissel Kobe assembled a team with FIFA World Cup champions Podolski and Iniesta, the team has not only became the center of attention in Japan, but also around the entire globe, and the fans, together with the club owner Mikitani, are hoping to see them earn the right to appear in ACL, as well as dominate the J. League.
The team’s home jersey is crimson red and their suppliers since 1999 have been asics. Their jerseys have sponsor logos from Rakuten, Kawasaki, Henri Charpentier, NOEVIR, and others.