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Asiaweek June 16, 2000
A soccer player knows about spin control, and Japanese 
superstar Nakata Hidetoshi was displeased with the bad 
bounces his locker-room remarks were taking in the 
press. Sports reporters spelled his name right, but the
 reclusive midfielder says he experienced "feelings of 
frustration" because his statements were seldom faithf-
ully reproduced by newspapers and magazines. Having just
 acquired a laptop computer and an e-mail account, the 
wildly popular Nakata quickly deduced he didn't really 
need all those pushy scribes standing between himself 
and his fans anyway. The media could be disintermediated.
 Cut from the loop. Nakata nearly two years ago opened 
his own website to communicate directly with his followers.
 "The fact that I am able to talk to readers of the website
 without having anyone filter my writing is very satisfying,"
 says Nakata in an interview conducted via the Internet. 
"Many times it can be lonely to be an athlete, but through 
the mail I feel I am not alone. I feel like my fans are 
practically my real friends."

One nice thing about having pals is you can cadge a few 
bucks from them sometimes. Because his fansite draws a 
huge crowd, second in Japan only to the official Play-
Station 2 site, Nakata's management company recently 
launched another. Club.nakata.net charges $4.67 a month 
for access to exclusive chat rooms and video clips of Our 
Hero at home in Italy, where he plays for the AS Roma 
team. "The sites are a way for Nakata to show his gra-
titude to his fans," says Fujita Mina, his business manager.
 "This way, they have more access to him than the press does."