Full Name: Avispa Fukuoka
Nickname: Avispa, Avi, Hachi
Founded: 1982 (as Chūō Bōhan F.C.)
Home Ground: Level-5 Stadium
Manager/Coach: Yoshiyuki Shinoda (Japan)
League Champions: -
League Cup Winners: -
Emperor’s Cup Winners: -
Super Cup Winners: -
AFC Champions League Winners: -
Started in 1982 by employees of the security company Chuo Bohan, the club was originally located in Fujieda city in the Shizuoka Prefecture. After close to a decade of playing in the regional leagues, the club was promoted to the Japan Soccer League Second Division in 1991 and joined the Japan Football League Division 2 in the following year, being promoted after their first season.
The quick rise made them candidates for entering the J. League and, in an attempt meet requirements and gain membership, it created a professional club side called Chūō Bōhan F.C. Fujieda Blux. Its failure to meet other requirements, however, along with the J. League’s saturation in the Shizuoka Prefecture with the presence of Shimizu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata, the club made the move to Fukuoka on Japan’s south island of Kyushu, renaming themselves Fukuoka Blux.
The move proved successful, with the JFL side finishing in pole position in the 1995 season, with the aide of Hugo Maradonna, and thus earning promotion to the J. League for the following year. They once again changed their name, this time to avoid potential trademark disputes with a similar-sounding men’s clothier, to Avispa Fukuoka, using the Spanish word for ‘Wasp’ in reference to the infamously dangerous and aggressive wasps found in the Kyushu region.
While attendances were healthy in the first several years of the club’s time in the J. League, its performances were not as great, finishing on or near the bottom of the table on most occasions and only narrowly avoided relegation to the Second Division (J2) for its inaugural season. Its luck wasn’t to last, however, and it eventually succumbed to relegation in 2001.
Attendances were cut in half and the team struggled to make any initial impact, finishing in the bottom half in their first season in J2. A steady resurgance and gradually-improving performances saw those attendances rise again until, in 2005, they again achieved promotion by finishing second with several impressive performances. A miserable 2006 season, however, saw them some distance away from avoiding relegation and, despite managing to earn a spot in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff Series, they lost 1-1 on away goals to Vissel Kobe.
Their second return to J2 saw several experiments, including the signing of Australian trio Mark Rudan, Ufuk Talay and Joel Griffiths in 2008 and, in 2009, the beginning of a new policy of bringing in players from regional universities and other youth players to compliment the experience of the older players. In 2010, a strong end to the season, along with some luck of other teams beginning to trail off and tire, they managed to earn the third and final promotion place to return to J1 for the 2011 season.