After a banner reading “Japanese Only” was left hanging in the Urawa Reds Saitama Stadium on the team’s first home game, officials for the professional football club plan to ban the fans found responsible for the act.
Some sources close the team said the accused fans denied the allegations that the banner contains discriminatory intent. But officials from the team said punishment is in order, regardless of the intent. A public official from the Urawa Reds team said, “At first we only thought that the banner ‘could be construed as a discriminatory message’ but we were too lenient.” He added, “We now consider it as definitely ‘a discriminatory message.’’ Those involved may be banned on future matches of the Reds, whether it is a home or away game. Investigations are still ongoing over the actual intent of the banner, but the ban will take effect on the Reds’ away match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on March 15.
Officials from the team are also thinking of taking action against staff members who allowed the banner to be displayed for at least an hour before taking it down, as they thought it did not send a discriminatory message. The handwritten banner was displayed above the entrance to a seat section in the stadium during the Reds’ home game against Sagan Tosu, which they lost.