The Japan Football Association's €120,000 outlay for Takashi Sekizuka's men comes despite their low popularity when compared to the reigning Women's World Cup championsIn an embarrassing revelation for the Japan Football Association (JFA), Nikkan revealed on Friday that the country's Under-23 men's team will receive preferential treatment to the world champion women's team on their flight to London for the 2012 Olympics later this month.
According to the paper, the JFA will pay €120,000 for the men to fly to in business class, while spending just €20,000 on 'premium economy' upgrades for Nadeshiko Japan. Under-23 players such as Hannover's Hiroki Sakai and Nurnberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake will be able to sleep in fully-reclining seats, while just metres away the Women's World Cup champions, featuring Ballon d'Or winner Homare Sawa, will only be able to recline at a 120-degree angle.
"The men's team is made of professional players, so we've sent them on business class since the  Atlanta Olympics," a JFA representative told Nikkan. "But at that time [Nadeshiko] were still amateur players with smaller physiques, so until now it's been the custom to fly them on economy.
"But this year Nadeshiko are popular and are expected to medal, so we're providing them with a small upgrade to premium economy."
While all of Japan's Olympic athletes are provided economy-class tickets by the Japan Olympic Committee, governing sports associations such as the JFA as well as the athletes themselves sometimes pay for upgrades.
In a national survey administered in May by Japanese polling firm Central Research Services, over 42 percent said they were looking forward to the women's football tournament, making it the second most-anticipated sport behind competitive swimming. Just under 25 percent answered that they were looking forward to the men's tournament.
In the same poll, over 40 percent of respondents expected Nadeshiko to win a medal in London, while less than three percent held similar expectations for the men.
Both teams will play a send-off match on July 11 at Tokyo's National Stadium, with Nadeshiko facing Australia and Takashi Sekizuka's men challenging New Zealand's Under-23 team.