Meet the team: Q and A with Yuuichiro Nakajima

As part of our continuing series of Q and As, we spoke with Yuuichiro Nakajima, who as a member of our expert Advisory Board brings more than 30 years’ experience in corporate finance to the table. Not only that – Yuuichiro is no stranger to football on and off the pitch, both in his professional career as a senior advisor to football governing bodies and as a player and referee. Here he tells us about his work with AFDP Global and chooses some highlights from his long involvement in the world of football.

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with AFDP Global and your decision to join the Advisory Board?

I first met Prince Ali in 2011 when I was involved in supervising an investigation into corruption at the highest level of the Asian Football Confederation. Prince Ali was then, as he is now, a member of the Executive Committee and was very supportive of the work that we did. In fact, he was the leading light in uncovering the wrong-doing at the top of the AFC. I have had a professional interest in corporate governance and safeguarding stakeholder interests, as well as a personal desire to promote social development. For these reasons, accepting Prince Ali’s invitation to join the Advisory Board was an extremely easy decision!

You bring some really valuable skills and experience to the table from your career in corporate finance. How do you think these can be applied to the work of AFDP Global?

I have been fortunate enough to have been presented with a number of interesting football governance-related opportunities. These include an AFC Finance Committee membership and the investigative role mentioned above. More recently, I was asked to join the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, representing Asia. I believe that these came about at least in part because of my work as an investment banker, specialising in mergers and acquisitions. My firm advises clients on strategy, corporate valuation, deal negotiation and processing and, to some extent, documentation. Part of what is required of an M&A banker is skill in structuring a deal that satisfies all stakeholders’ objectives. Attention to detail is also a significant element of the necessary expertise. I hope that a combination of my experience in stakeholder engagement and detailed analysis will be useful in acting as an AFDP Global Advisory Board member.

Football has been a huge part of your life – both professionally and as an amateur player and referee. What are some of the highlights from your involvement in football so far?

Like many boys, I dreamt of becoming a professional footballer in my youth, but reality disabused me of such fantasies early on! With this being said, playing football continues to bring me much joy and satisfaction. On the fringes of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, I had the privilege to play 8-a-side football as a member of the FIFA Team alongside Marco van Basten, Paulo Wanchope, Clarence Seedorf, Pascal Zuberbühler, amongst others! In a way, my childhood dream came true right then and there! I have also had some fascinating experiences away from the pitch, in addition to my work at the AFC and FIFA. In 2010, the Japan Football Association asked me to assist them with their bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This provided me with the opportunity to present Japan’s case to the “football family” and media in various countries. 

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of AFDP Global?

We have got off to a great start with our work to highlight the plight of female players in Afghanistan. There is an enormous amount of work that AFDP Global can and should be doing. In many ways, football is a mirror that reflects society and a portal through which we can reach communities. Be it social justice, development needs or fighting discrimination, AFDP Global has the capacity to harness the work of different organisations to tackle these issues. I would really like to see us becoming the global driving force in achieving development through football.