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Japanese soccer team fined ¥20 million because fans’ cheering violated COVID-19 guidelines

By SoraNews24

With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan is in a bit of an awkward situation. Reported infections are currently at an all-time high, but for the most part it seems as if Japanese society is moving towards a post-pandemic lifestyle. This can result in a lot of conflicting opinions about proper social behavior, as we can see in the current case of the Urawa Reds.

The Urawa Reds (formally Urawa Red Diamonds) are a first-division J.League soccer club based in Saitama Prefecture, having both a long history and very devoted fan-base. So devoted, in fact, that their exuberant support has landed the club in hot water in the form of a 20 million yen fine from the J.League for violating the league’s COVID-19 safety rules against loud cheering during games.

In issuing the fine, the J.League cited two separate incidents. On May 21 at a home match against the Kashima Antlers, a group of about 60 fans gathered by the north vehicle gate of Saitama Stadium 2002 and cheered for about 10 minutes while the team bus arrived. According to the J.League some members of the group were either unmasked or wearing a mask around their chin.

Then, on July 2 at Panasonic Stadium Suita, a group of some 100 Urawa Reds supporters were said to have been cheering loudly as a group for about five minutes in the final minutes of an away match against Gamba Osaka. Again, some among the group were not wearing masks, or wearing them incorrectly.

Though it’s impossible for a football club to completely control the actions of its fans, but the league’s governing body took issue with the fact that the Urawa Reds organization appeared to do nothing to try to prevent the behavior, despite warnings from the league that such behavior was likely to happen and should be addressed ahead of time. They added that the continuing behavior of Reds fans were hindering efforts to normalize professional soccer and damaging the reputation of the J.League.

The Urawa Reds were fined lesser amounts in 2020 and 2021 for similar violations of the J.League’s COVID-19 safety guidelines by fans. Even prior to the pandemic, die-hard fans who formed a group known as the Urawa Boys were accused of various anti-social behavior, such as holding placards with racist slogans and reckless use of fireworks.

However, this current 20-million-yen fine is tied for the highest ever handed down to a team, indicating that the J.League wants to send a firm message that it will not tolerate breaches in its COVID-19 guidelines. Despite this, many Japanese comments online seem to feel the J.League should do more to punish the team.

“Not just a 20 million-yen fine. Demote them to the third-division.”

“They say they’re fans, but they seem to be screwing their own team over.”

“It’s a shame that the team has to pay for the unruliness of the supporters.”

“This stuff is just going to keep the normal people away from soccer games.”

“I really hate taking the train home from work on days when there’s a Reds match.”

“People who shout should get banned from the stadium for a year.”

“J3 demotion is still an option…”

“The Reds should share the punishment by raising ticket prices. Then everyone pays.”

In response to the fine, the Reds issued a statement on their website asking for their fans’ cooperation in the matter and pledging to remind supporters about the leagues COVID-19 guidelines. They plan to do this both before games, via social media and communicating directly with groups like the Urawa Boys, as well as during games by displaying warnings on the stadium’s Aurora Vision scoreboard and promptly ejecting spectators who violate the rules.

Whether this will have an effect remains to be seen, but perhaps the one comment summed it up best by pointing out that the fans are directly hurting the team they claim to support with their actions. If they are true fans, it seems like that fact alone ought to be enough to make them change their ways.

Source: J.League, Urawa Reds, Football Zone, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Same day as "Kishida says restrictions unnecessary despite record COVID-19 cases"

Maybe Kishida should cast his strongus urgeus a bit on J league as well.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

That's ridiculous !

Enough said !

10 ( +21 / -11 )

Good grief

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Good to see although penalty should have been demotion and a much larger financial penalty.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

You cannot fine a person or institution for not breaking any rules. There is nothing illegal about screaming, yelling, shouting or cheering neither about not wearing a mask. These mandates were only requests or urges but nothing illegal. So good luck collecting that money

8 ( +19 / -11 )

A fine the cost of... what... 50 tickets? 100? It won't hurt them one bit. How about a month with no fans? Plus, fans who may have been asked to stop but did not banned for the season. Period. Enough of the nonsense. If you have rules and they are broken, you dole out consequences that will prevent people from breaking them again.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )


Actually, no one should bother looking. Because they will find it in a heartbeat.

Fixed it for you. You are welcome.


@The Nomad

I think you missed the point : a private entity is fining one of their member for not following the rules in place. Happy or not about the decision, it is like that. The team is free to leave the J-League if they do not agree with the fine.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

This is one of those ‘only in Japan’ scenarios. A wise government would have just banned spectators, which is what most of the rest of the world did. Instead, Japan allowed fans but they were not allowed to cheer (or breath heavily).

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

i can only imagine the US or Europe trying to ask fans to not cheer. You would see everyone man, woman, and child give them the “one finger salute”.

I have to disagree. In the UK it would be the two finger salute. :-)

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Japan really needs a truckers protest or something similar to protest these mask mandates and restrictions. I'd like to know when the last person under 50 in Japan had died from Covid. That said, if you are over 50 or 60 , can't you get a vaccine and booster? Learn to live with Covid already.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

The Reds management should tell J.League administrators where to go, and refuse to pay the fine. As others have said, there's no evidence that cheering creates a super-spreader situation, nor any that wearing masks stops the virus from spreading.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

That is punishment by association.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Own goal.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Probably only in Japan can you impose this kind of rule and have a hope of not being misused

If done in other countries fans of the opposing team would be cheering loudly for a team to get it into trouble

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The rule in itself is stupid, and it is an outdoor venue. It has been two years already.

Supporters just want to cheer. It is natural.

Glad some supporters express themselves

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Keep on cheering at games. There are no restrictions and it's a soccer game, not a daily train commute.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

This is insane!

4 ( +10 / -6 )

This is an example of how authorities can capitalize on the pandemic to impose their will on the people trampling on their rights and liberties.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

some members of the group were either unmasked or wearing a mask around their chin.

no surprise there.

How many Japanese males have been doing that since day 1?

corona or no corona, if you’re gonna wear a mask, wear it like a normal person. if you’re gonna just make it a chin warmer, just take it off.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Japan at it's stupidest.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

This is one of those ‘only in Japan’ scenarios. A wise government would have just banned spectators, which is what most of the rest of the world did. Instead, Japan allowed fans but they were not allowed to cheer (or breath heavily).

Japan simply allowed spectators up to a certain capacity, which is in line with other countries. Everything else is more about the individual leagues trying to "save face" with ridiculous rules.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The case numbers are irrelevant, despite being dutifully logged by the JT. Japan is post-pandemic. Covid is endemic globally, outside China, with weak variants, vaccines and multiple other medical responses.

And if Kashida says the restrictions are unnecessary, then why is he still blocking tourists and why are fans still silenced?

Some of the responses suggest that Project Fear has worked rather too well in Japan, and they are going to have quite a bit of trouble moving back to normal.

4 ( +12 / -8 )


"Don't shout at the match...but go ahead and pack yourselves onto the train getting to and from."

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Most stupid thing I have ever jeard! If they are going to let them sit cheek to jowl with masks on...how the hell can they then turn around and fine them for having a good time. The authorities have lost their collective minds!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Incredibly unfair to Urawa Reds. 60 fans, not being aggressive, but simply cheering on their heroes as they arrive at the stadium.

Really unfair and unwarranted penalty - great to see most people agree.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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