After their 1-0 defeat to S-Pulse yesterday, around 150 Urawa supporters blocked 50 S-Pulse fans inside the ground. The trapped Shimizu fans were not let out for over four hours. The trouble had started almost immediately after the game when, apparently upset after our regular kachiloko, several home fans walked the length of the stadium to make macho posturings from behind the two separating barriers. These were the same fans who parodied our kachiloko when they beat us at Ecopa last year. That's football, that's banter and that's fine, but throwing your toys out the pram just because you lose? Please.
Though nothing as serious as a derby, there's been a long standing rivalry between Shimizu and Urawa as the heartland of Japanese football. As such, our Okoku Shimizu (Kingdom Shimizu) song got an outing.
This especially seemed to wind the Urawa fans up, but let's be clear about this. Yesterday's trouble was pure sour grapes and a petulant tantrum. If they'd scored a last minute equaliser, this would not have happened. Other sets of fans may have reacted to their provocations, and we all remember what happened at the same stadium a few years ago. Urawa host Kashima on May 11th, and if they try the same thing I don't think the Antler's fans will be as mild mannered as ours were.
Speaking of Kashima, we had a similar experience away there last season. After we beat them, several of their fans made the same attempts at provoking violence having come over to the away enclosure. These incidents raise serious questions over security and safety at J. League matches. Where were the stewards? Where was the police? A 40000 strong crowd is not going to be self policing.
After the posturing above, a sizeable group of Urawa fans proceeded to block the away fan's exit. Admittedly, the vast majority of our lot had already left, myself included, but around 50 remained and were not let out for over four hours. FOUR HOURS. Think about that. Since when was mob rule instigated? That's not hooliganism. That's anarchy. Where was the police during this time? How was this allowed to happen?
The issue was eventually resolved when club chairmen and supporters talked it out, but that's insanity. This isn't a situation to give everyone a seat at the table. You have people breaking the law, so send the heavy mob in, arrest the perpetrators, and let everyone else go home.
Presumably Urawa, and by extension, the J. League can identify the ringleaders, so ban them for the rest of the season. Refusing to involve the police may be a concious effort to avoid bad publicity, but molly coddling kids with hooligan ambitions will only embolden them. If you don't crack down on it now you're going to see more and more of this over the years.
With concern being voiced over falling gate figures, the league can't afford to be soft on this. Let these things slide and eventually it'll turn people off the game for good.
BARRY WRITES... I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Be...