One night in mid-March, when it was still chilly, a jet-black limousine appeared in Daikanyama, Tokyo, at night, with a heavy engine sound. The car stopped quietly in front of a sophisticated cafe. In the midst of the extraordinary atmosphere, the limousine door opened and a man in a jacket got out. His blond hair and sunglasses stood out even in the dark of night. It was Keisuke Honda, 36, a charismatic figure in the world of Japanese soccer. Waiting for him at the cafe were a mysterious middle-aged man and woman. After about an hour and a half of secret talks, Honda, still wearing his sunglasses, and the man and woman came out of the cafe. Perhaps they had wrapped up some big business, Honda and the middle-aged man shook hands stiffly and firmly in the storefront.
This was three days before he appeared as a surprise guest at Kinki University’s graduation ceremony (March 18), wowing the audience with his passionate exhortation to “release your desires and don’t set limits.
It seems that he returned to Japan on that very day, March 15. He probably came to wrap up all his domestic work at once, including an ad shoot and participation in a graduation ceremony,” said a source at a major advertising agency.
On March 25, Honda wrote on Twitter, “Change is painful, but if you don’t change, it will be more painful someday. But if you don’t change, it will be more painful someday.”
The most important reason for this change is that he is going to return to Japan urgently. SOLTILO was established as a spin-off from Honda Estilo, Honda’s company that develops multiple soccer businesses including player management, and operates soccer schools in Japan and abroad.
An employee of the company’s business partner revealed that the trouble at SOLTILO had something to do with Honda’s return to Japan.
Mr. Honda had entrusted the management of the company to someone who met his eye. He seems to think that bringing in people from the outside will improve the openness of the company, rather than making it a family-run business. In fact, Mr. A, who was introduced to the company by an old friend, has been appointed as the representative director.
However, the appointment of Mr. A backfired.
I heard that more than 10 old employees have left the company due to Mr. A’s power harassment. He reprimanded them in front of other employees, forcing them to attend drinking parties and threatening them, saying, ‘Either quit or work 24 hours a day without sleep.
According to this acquaintance, “Honda heard rumors that employees were quitting one after another due to President A’s power harassment, so he had no choice but to return to Japan temporarily.”
Mr. Honda returned from Cambodia, where he was serving as GM of the national soccer team. He immediately urged Mr. A to resign as representative director and decided to take charge of the company himself.
Is it true that more than 10 employees resigned due to Mr. A’s power harassment? Will Honda himself assume the position of representative director? On March 24, this magazine contacted “Soltillo” to confirm the facts. However, no response was received by the deadline. On March 27, after a period of repeated attempts to contact the company, we found that Mr. A’s name, the greeting he had written at the time of his appointment, and a photo of his face had been deleted from the company website.
Organizations that are able to overcome adversity have perseverance. That’s the kind of culture they usually instill.
Was Honda’s March 25 tweet in response to the power harassment allegations?
Honda, who will serve as GM of the Cambodian national team until May, also tweeted on the same day.
I’m going to spend 6 months to a year looking for a great manager who is well versed in sports x education, so if there is anyone good, please introduce me!
The man and woman who had a secret meeting at a high-class cafe in Tokyo may have been a strong candidate for a new manager.
From the April 14, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Shu Nishihara