South Korea and Japan are the only Asian countries that regularly qualify for World Cup tournaments. While soccer is played throughout the region, long-standing sociocultural beliefs prevent the rest of Asia's nations from making history at FIFA's quadrennial competition, according to one former player.
Culture is "one of the biggest determining factors" for nations looking to improve their international standing, Tom Byer, an American who played in England and Tokyo, told CNBC following Sunday's World Cup finals.
Byer has been coaching youth teams in Japan for the past two decades, and he's gained celebrity status there for having discovered top-shelf talents such as Shinji Kagawa. Byer's company, T3 International, runs coaching academies that focus on technical aspects of the game such as ball control and shooting — a method of instruction that's widely believed to have boosted the skill levels of Japan's male and female teams.
Many Asian nations lack a real soccer culture and they prioritize education over sports, he explained.