is a professional football club playing in Japan's football league, J. League. One of Japan's best supported teams, the club has been able to boast the highest average crowds for eight of the J-League's fifteen season history. In 2007 the team attracted an average gate of over 46000, the highest in both Japan and Asia as a whole. The club's move in 2002 to the newly built Saitama Stadium, coupled with an upturn in form, has been responsible for swelling average gates to nearly twice that of their historical average. Its hometown is the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture.
The club has enjoyed mixed fortunes since the J-League advent. The club finished bottom of the league for the first two seasons of the J-League with an average crowd of under 15,000. In 1999 they suffered relegation to the second tier of Japanese football yet again. The team has since improved in form in recent years, starting with a 2003 victory in the Nabisco Cup.
In August 2004, Urawa appeared in a pre-season four-team friendly tournament, the Vodafone Cup, at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United. The Japanese club, missing key players, lost their first game 5-2 against the Argentinian side Boca Juniors. The second fixture against the hosts, Manchester United, was called off due to a massive electric storm. Some 800 Urawa fans had travelled to the game and were later compensated.
In 2006 Urawa clinched their first league title by defeating runners-up Gamba Osaka 3-2 on December 2 before 63,000 supporters. This came after two close calls in the previous two years. In 2005, they finished 2nd, one point behind champions Gamba Osaka. In 2004, they finished 3rd in the First Stage and won the Second Stage. Having qualified for the two-match J. League Championship decider, they lost on penalty kicks to Yokohama F. Marinos.
Urawa were back to back Emperor's Cup winners in 2005 and 2006. Winning the title for the first title since establishment as a professional team, they defeated Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 on January 1, 2006, and retained the title in 2007 with a 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka. This win also completed a league-cup double. Playing as the team of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the club had won the title on four previous occasions. In the 2007 tournament they were defeated at the first hurdle by J2 outfit Ehime F.C..
In 2007, despite a seemingly unassailable lead of seven points with four games remaining, Urawa picked up only two points from their final four games. This run included losing at home to Kashima Antlers; the team who would leapfrog Urawa on the final day of the season to claim their fifth J. League title. Following their capitulation in the fourth round of the Emperor's Cup to J2 outfit Ehime F.C., Urawa had to be content with their 2007 Asian Champions League title. Urawa recorded their first international title after overcoming Iranian team Sepahan F.C. 3-1 on aggregate. The victory made them the first Japanese side to win the title since the competition was reorganised from the Asian Champions Cup in 2003. In the Club World Cup of the same year, Urawa became the first AFC team to finish in third place, beating Tunisian Étoile Sportive du Sahel side on penalty kicks in the third / fourth place play off.
Urawa has two home stadiums, Urawa Komaba Stadium and Saitama Stadium 2002 (FIFA World Cup 2002 venue). The club is also notable in that former Feyenoord midfielder Shinji Ono began his professional career playing for Urawa. Ono returned for the 2006 season for a second stint with the club. Urawa are affiliated with German club FC Bayern Munich, whose nickname is also "The Reds".
Urawa Red Diamonds (Professional era)
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Urawa Red Diamonds (Professional era)
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