The gentleman above was one of many Saitama Stadium security guards that had the unenviable duty of telling Urawa Red Diamonds fans that they weren’t allowed to attend Sunday’s game. The players were allowed into the stadium, though, as the Diamonds still played their scheduled game against the Shimizu S-Pulse, which resulted in a 1-1 tie. Why did the Reds pull a Miami Marlins and play in front of no fans? Because some of those fans have been getting a little bit racist lately.
Specifically, on March 8, some fans hung a banner that read, “Japanese Only” over one of the stadium entrances, and that has a lot of people concerned because of the country’s recent nationalistic tone, according to TIME. So while the team reportedly punished as many as 20 fans for the act, and the team’s president returned three months of his salary, J-League officials said that it wasn’t enough, and they made the Reds and S-Pulse play in front of empty seats.
It also didn’t help that the team didn’t really see a problem with the banner. At least not right away.
Officials of the Urawa Reds team said a small group of supporters hung a “Japanese Only” banner in a stadium entranceway during a home game on March 8. They said the banner was to discourage foreigners from sitting in that section and disrupting group cheers; security guards later reported hearing “discriminatory remarks” toward foreigners.
Team officials said they did not remove the banner until after the game because, initially, they did not deem it racist or discriminatory. The issue went viral after fans posted photos of the banner online. (Via TIME)
The punishment reportedly cost the Reds approximately $1 million in revenue for that day. Meanwhile in America, Dan Snyder’s like, “Hey, what’s the big deal?” while Riley Cooper’s all, “I woulda fought all of the Nationalists, I tells ya!”
Jokes aside, there’s just something strangely peaceful about seeing two teams play in an empty stadium. I bet the players could have even heard the sound of each grass blade bending as they flopped to the ground.