J-League club Urawa Reds are currently investigating the “Japanese Only” banner that was put up at the stadium by some fans during their first home game at the Saitama Stadium. They are interviewing the people responsible and trying to find out what they meant with their statement, which was written in English.
During the Reds’ first match of the season against Sagan Tosu last Saturday, team officials saw the banner around halftime at the entrance gate to the home fans’ seats. They were only able to have the banner removed after an hour because they could not do so when the second half was about to start. One team official expressed their “deepest apologies” for the incident. The day after, Urawa Reds President Keizo Fuchita met with other club officials to discuss the possible punishments they would have to apply after they conduct an investigation into the matter. They said the message can be taken as a xenophobic statement for the non-Japanese fans who were entering the stadium. But they also said it could have been referring to the fact that all Urawa Reds players on the bench were Japanese. The players did not see the banner, but when one of them, defender Tomoaki Makino, found out, he tweeted, “We lost the game (1-0), but there was something more mortifying.”
The chairman of the J-League organizers, the Japan Professional Football League, Mitsuru Murai, said that if it turns out that the intention behind the statement is discriminatory, then they will “sternly address the issue.” He said that unfortunately, the “sensible” Urawa Reds fans will be the “first and foremost victims in the case.”
[ via Asahi ]