J-League orders Urawa to play next game in empty stadium over discriminatory banner


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Good to see that the league meted out some form of punishment. Now the club just has to follow through on making sure this kinda crap doesn't happen again.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Saw this on fujitelebi this morning. The report lasted mere seconds but a good result.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Idiotic. So punish the players, the opposing team, 99.99% of good fans, sponsors, people with part time jobs at the stadium, caterers etc...? I'm dumbfounded. Surely the perpetrators are the ones who should be solely punished and a warning placed out and inside the stadium.

-22 ( +8 / -30 )

with discrimination being so widely tolerated in japan im surprised this is even a story. is the punishment just to avoid international embarrasment? i would rather see this silly homemade sign that has no law behind it than see no sign but still be discriminated against with no legal recourse.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

A step in the right direction....

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@80393 - May this be the start of a long line of punishment for this kind of behavior. Frankly I am surprised it is happening now (good) as opposed to from 2019 (which is after 22 years here i assumed this kind of thing would start happening) right before the Olympics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tamanegi, punishing just the offenders doesn't work when the incidents happen on a regular basis, and the team doesn't do anything to deal with it (as evidenced by this being a repeated type of incident). So, you hit the team where it hurts, and where the supporters feel it as well, you hit the team as a whole. These Reds supporters want their team to be successful, to watch the games, and to see them win? Then control themselves and stop the racist crap.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Stupid punishment. Garnish their wages. Also, what are they talking about, their coach is a foreigner. What a whole stupid situation. Too much heading the ball maybe.

-18 ( +1 / -19 )

Good idea for a punishment. Now maybe people will start taking ownership of the problem not just blaming and pointing fingers. The story is about the perpetrators but it's also about those who acquiesced and allowed it to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

J-League's own goal.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No bowing and saying sorry will get them out of this one.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

our indignation should be saved for the real discrimination that has an effect on our everyday lives. these signs are just the work of homegrown bigots and theyre found in every country. sure they should be punished buts lets look at the disease rather than the symptom. japan needs to stop condoning discrimination across the board and then worry about soccer fans. lets work big to small.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Good for them.

J-League sure acted swiftly and much more than what FIFA or others would have done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The article fails to mention that the 3 perps are banned indefinitely to all Urawa Reds games.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

So they will get their wish , No foreigners, also no Japanese and no other spectators, how about they punish those who allowed the banner to be erected and left in place, the stadium operators and the officials of J league along with the security firm.

The sponsors, the team and the players probably had little or no knowledge or control over the sign being up why punish them?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The punishment is weak

God what would you be happy with? Zero revenue for the club on the match on the 23rd; the three offenders have been banned from the stadium indefinitely; the message has been loud and clear by a number of organisations and the media are all over it.

a random "Japanese Only" at a football stadium

There was nothing random about it. It was at one end of the ground where the most rabid fans get together and like to chant in unison and most likely got all upset by foreign spectators supporting another team, in what fashion I will leave to your imagination. The banner has been slammed by a number of areas of society. It was not unprovoked though.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The punishment is reasonable. The club did nothing to remove the banner so they have to accept some responsibility. The fans who put up the banner can spend the day in their black idiot vans instead of watching the game.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

These acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad,

I would think that the social repercussions would be expected.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Punishment in line with FIFA policy concerning the "kick racism out of football campaign." As a number of clubs in Europe have found out in the past (and the Reds have found out now), racism has no place in football. You do stuff like this and FIFA (through the J League) in this case will come down on you.

Furthermore, for those people who want to whine about this punishment as window dressing, think about the revenue lost. It might be only the J League, but the Reds are well known as team who play their home games in a packed stadium, one of the stadiums that hosted the World Cup back in 2002. That means millions in lost revenue.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Yes, the step against the Urawa Reds was a tad draconian, but it is not unprecedented. I remember several decades ago the Football Association in England forced a team to play in an empty stadium because the team couldn't control its unruly fans.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Nice call, J-League. Next time someone tries something daft as this, the real fans around them will sort it out.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

As HongoTAFEinmate has pointed out, this practice has recently been followed in other countries when similar offences have been committed - yes, it's inconvenient but it sends a message to EVERYONE and EVRYONE needs to know its unacceptable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good call on that one, well done

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good judgement by the J-League. Yes, a group of 20 or so racists idiots ruined it for all, but now if it happens again, everyone in the majority will squash this foolish behavior.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not the first time racist behaviour has been seen so fair enough. If they fail to sort it out, start looking at deducting points.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

David VarnesMar. 14, 2014 - 08:23AM JST

tamanegi, punishing just the offenders doesn't work when the incidents happen on a regular basis

What? This is the first time such a racist banner was displayed at a J leage succor game in the 20 years of history.

Where did you get the misinformation that the incidents happen on a regular basis? It seems we need to find the real hate monger.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Nice to see the league come down hard on this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

CH3CHO, Urawa was fined 5 million yen previously for racist taunting and chanting by fans during games. So you can stop trying to split hairs by saying it was the first banner, or the first banner hung in a public area, or whatever. There has been a history of racist acts by the Urawa fans. Bottom line.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I'd like to see a similar zero-tolerance policy toward unsportsmanlike and discriminatory behavior adopted at every soccer/football/futbol stadium in the world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good move.

The argument that you shouldn't punish everyone for the actions of a few people doesn't fly here, because among football fans its the group as a whole which dictates what is or is not acceptable. Things like this at least require people to turn a blind eye.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

David VarnesMar. 14, 2014 - 10:44AM JST

CH3CHO, Urawa was fined 5 million yen previously for racist taunting taunting and chanting by fans during games. So you can stop trying to split hairs by saying it was the first banner, or the first banner hung in a public area, or whatever.

That was once in May 2010. But you cannot jump all the way to say "on a regular basis."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Good move by the J League front office but I still want FIFA to weigh in. If Japan is going to be continously awarded high profile sporting events (2020 Olympics, 2019 World Rugby Championships in addition to co-hosting the 2002 World Cup with South Korea) then this xenophobic nonsense has got to stop.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The governing body FIFA should not tolerate this and should exclude this club I'll be phoning FIFA today to complain about this......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good move, the punishment is fine and fitting will hopefully make all the J-league soccer fans and teams ( and perhaps the wider J-population ) a bit more aware about the fact that racist crap does happen here and contribute towards minimizing such occurances in the future. Well played J -league.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can't agree more. I really hope that have found those morons. By the way, as far as I know, Petrovic is Austrian.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a pretty good punishment. FIFA would have been a bit harsher. Empty stadium means lost revenue on beer, food, tickets, memorabilia. While the team is losing some money, the community is being punished more with lost revenue from visiting fans. Off topic, I would bet there are some secret conversations going on between the supporter groups and team management on to who posted the banner and some quiet punishment doled out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think the punishment is fitting enough, especially since the people who put it up got banned. If it were just racist taunts from the crowd I'd say kick the people responsible out, but don't punish the club itself. As can be seen by watching European clubs with intense rivalries, it's hard to prevent unruly fans from entering and knowing what they are going to shout, etc. But a sign that is left up all through the match and could easily have been taken down, on top of other incidents with Urawa, is quite a different story. Unfortunately I fear it will cause even more reaction among the type of people likely to pull this kind of stunt, and it'll be pretty hard to keep fans from holding up signs or banners (though they can be gotten rid of more quickly by the club).

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

By the way, as far as I know, Petrovic is Austrian.

He is Serbian (so no stranger to racism in all its vilest manifestations), but holds an Austrian passport for some reason.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He was born in Serbia but holds Austrian Citizenship.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It took decades for many fans in the UK to accept international players (some still do not - not least because of the perceived detrimental effect on the national team).

If sumo and baseball can change so to can Japanese football. Give it time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For me, this is key:

Thursday’s decision comes after a fan displayed a banner at Urawa’s home stadium on Saturday that had the words “Japanese Only” written on it. The sign was put up at a stadium entrance but wasn’t removed until after the March 8 game.

Had they removed it straight away, there wouldn't have been an incident because it would have been dealt with immediately but the fact that it was only removed after the game is the reason for the punishment. The J-League have said that the club accepted the actions of their fans.

As such, the penalty clearly matches the crime and it's excellent that the J-League have made such a statement.

Now, if only Sepp Blatter had the same balls. Afterall he previously said that racism could be dealt with with a shake of the hand. Perhaps the head of the JFA should be the next head of FIFA?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What did you expect of soccer fans... they are the same all over the world. Bunch of hot headed morons in here, in Italy, in France, in Argentine, in Mexico... etc., etc.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Daniel: "They have every right to define their own reactions to events just as you do."

Yes, but the difference is with the club itself, and in this case they not only allowed the sign to stay up for the entire game, by doing so they encouraged the fans' behaviour altogether. Hell, even Murai after the incident said to the media "action would be taken if the sign were deemed discriminatory" when there is absolutely no room for doubt that it IS discriminatory, only to say what he said in this article after the extreme blowback. As Heda and I have both pointed out, the sign could have been taken down by the club at any time, thus making it simply a bunch of racist drivel by radicals in the stands, but they chose to keep it up.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I've been to Urawa loads of times and never experienced anything untoward. Ever.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I really hope that this incident and subsequent punishment will force football fans in Japan to realize that such acts of racial and/or ethnic intolerance will not be accepted. It's not hard to see why you don't see the use of banners in the stands at NFL stadiums in the USA, considering the long history of racial and ethnic intolerance in that country.

In Europe, racial intolerance against African players in the top European leagues has become a HUGE problem, especially in the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A, as i mentioned earlier. We've seen some really ugly incidents, including lit road flares thrown onto the field--and that's on top of very racist chants from the Ultra fans of well-known teams.

I just hope the incident with the Urawa Reds is an isolated case, because otherwise it will start to reflect badly on J. League itself.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Idiotic. So punish the players, the opposing team, 99.99% of good fans, sponsors, people with part time jobs at the stadium, caterers etc...? I'm dumbfounded. Surely the perpetrators are the ones who should be solely punished and a warning placed out and inside the stadium.

Had this been the first incident with Urawa fans and foreign players, then I think the punishment would be a bit extreme. THAT'S NOT THE CASE, HOWEVER. After the last incident the team should have been extra vigilant regarding fan racism and the team STILL allowed the banner to remain until after the match. Ergo the severe punishment. This type of punishment usually gets the attention of both management (due to lost gate receipts), and the "99.99% of good fans" who didn't say a single word to the person who hung the banner. Maybe next time the "99.99% of good fans" will do something other than thrust their heads in a sandbox and pretend they didn't see anything.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good. Crap such as this cannot be tolerated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Looks like "Empty Seats Only".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

That's a novel punishment and I agree.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Then what is the difference in some public hot springs, onsen in Japanese, that has "Japanese Only" signs up. Management there allowed the people who "looked Japanese" to enter but barred those who "looked foreign" meaning usually white, brown or black foreigners. They will let in a Chinese in because they looked "Japanese enough". They will kicked you out when you revealed yourself as foreigner. This is a case of racial discrimination.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

forcing integration for the sake of political correctness is silly... if a team wants to be only Japanese... and the fans like that .. but it is silly not to have Brazilians, Germans, Spainiards or Italians as Japanese players can learn from their style of play... have you been to an Serie A match in Italy, or a Yankee game race has nothing to do with taunting and rude and insulting remarks about a mans family or looks? There is no need for taunting or for racism against players... they are human beings and deserve respect for making the team be they home or away clubs...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )


Then what is the difference in some public hot springs, onsen in Japanese, that has "Japanese Only" signs up.

The main difference would be that the soccer banner incident occurred in 2014, while there hasn't been a reported case of such an onsen sign in well over a decade.

The second difference would be that it took a court case to settle the onsen thing, again over a decade ago - and it was settled reluctantly, and with a significant amount of public debate back and forth. In 2014 this incident was settled quickly without legal action, and the decision has been met with overwhelming public support. (Debito gets a lot of grief these days, but credit where it's due: he did a really good thing in Otaru.)

Yes, Japanese Only signs crop up from time to time, but they are exceedingly rare. I haven't seen one myself since 2005, and that was over the door of a soapland in Wakkanai. Frankly, the Japanese can keep that one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I really don't follow soccer that much, but I think is a good gesture with Japan hosting the next Olympic. I don't know who all has access to this news but if it's read by anyone it shows Japan officials are trying to deter racism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites