You know one of the many things I like about the J. League? The ability to have a good, healthy rivalry between teams without the off field problems or political tensions of certain showdowns around the world.
Well, take a bow Jubilo Iwata supporters. Some of your ranks succeeded in dragging this year's Shizuoka Derby into the gutter with a truly foul display of racist stereotyping.
Think for a moment how this looks to the world. A man of Iranian heritage comes to Japan to work, and within months is labelled on national TV as a terrorist. Nobody thinks for a minute that those Jubilo fans actually believe that, but to be making such displays of race discrimination so freely and without any shame is simply abhorrent.
The banner sparked a near riot as large numbers of the S-Pulse supports were so incensed as to run the entire length of the stadium to confront and demand the flag. To my mind they were 100% justified in their actions and deserve applause for not letting this pass without words.
One S-Pulse fan who joined the angry mob told me "It can't be allowed. It had to be challenged." One Jubilo supporter told me "It's fucking stupid." Yep, it is. It's foul and left a bad taste in the mouth. It's time for the J. League to act, and act swiftly.
Ghotbi - I'm so very, very sorry you had to see that. Please don't take these wannabe hooligans' words to heart. Most people in Japan are decent folk who won't let this type of thing go unchallenged. You saw how our fans defended your honour - and that is the majority of this country.
Sunday May 29th Update:
Those responsible have been identified on YouTube.
Jubilo have issued a full unreserved apology to Afshin Ghotbi, S-Pulse supporters, everyone at the game, and everyone who loves the game of football.
Two males in their teens were detained after the game and interviewed by the police and match commissioner. The J. League are waiting on the official report.
S-Pulse new boy and former Jubilo striker Takahara was reported as expressing his disappointment with Iwata's fans.
The moment the flag was unveiled.
The shit immediately hitting the fan.
Oh, yeah - the game ended 0-0.