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14.03.14

Banner At Concourse Entrance Gate During J-League Game Between Urawa Reds and Sagan Tosu on March 8  

A banner which may be considered as discriminatory was unfurled by Urawa Reds supporters at the Concourse Entrance Gate in the North Side Stand behind the Urawa Reds goal during the J. League 2nd Sec match between Urawa Reds and Sagan Tosu (K.O. 16:04 / FH finished 16:52 / SH started 17:07 / Game finished 17:56). It took over more than an hour from the time Urawa Reds realized the presence of the banner, which could have been taken as implying that Urawa Reds approved what was written on the banner.

As a member of the J. League as well as of the Soccer Family that includes the Japan Football Association (JFA) and the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and as an organization committed to the eradication of discrimination, Urawa Reds offers its deepest apologies to everyone affected by this incident for having caused such a serious situation.

SANCTIONS IMPOSED BY J.LEAGUE
1)Reprimand
2)Playing a match without spectators
Subject Match:
J.LEAGUE Division 1 Sec. 4 Urawa Reds vs Shimizu S-Pulse
23rd March, 2014 (K.O. 15:00) Saitama Stadium 2002

Please visit the following URL for the details of sanctions imposed by J.LEAGUE.
http://www.j-league.or.jp/eng/news/0313-02.html

1.FACTS BEHIND BANNER INCIDENT
1)Time: Between 14:00 and 15:00
Three members (X, Y and Z) of a Urawa Reds supporters group unfurled a banner, which was made in the premise of the stadium on the day of the game, bearing the words "JAPANESE ONLY" at the entrance to Gate No. 209 in the stand behind the Urawa Reds goal and facing towards the opposite side of the pitch.

2)Time: Around 15:30
A security guard (A) patrolling that area noticed the presence of the banner which would not have been there in a normal game, and notified the head security guard (B) thereof. The head security guard (B) also realized the presence of the banner in question at Gate No. 209.

At the time, a supporter (Z) of the said group asked the head security guard (B), "There's no problem with this banner, is there?" and also said, "If there is a problem, tell me about it." The head security guard (B) gave neither a positive nor a negative reply, and the situation ended there. He did not report the incident to the security guard company's headquarters.

3)Time: Around 16:58
A fan pointed out to a security guard (C) who was in the area of Gate No. 209 that, "This banner is problematic. It could be interpreted as discrimination," whereupon the security guard contacted the head security guard (B) who contacted the security guard company headquarters. At almost the same time, a Urawa Reds staff member (L) found the information on social media sites and contacted the Club headquarters.

4)Time: Around 17:09
The Club headquarters acknowledged (the presence of) the banner in question along with an image of it. Deciding that it caused a problem, the Club headquarters instructed the security guard company to immediately remove the banner in question. At virtually the same time, another Club staff member (M) realized the banner in question at the site.

5)Time: Around 17:10 to 17:15
The head security guard (B), having responded to the supporter (Z) earlier at around 15:30, entered the stand behind the north goal and called the supporter (Z) to the pedestrian deck outside the stand where he asked the supporter (Z) to remove the banner saying that, "I want you to remove the banner immediately. This is the instruction from the Club," and "It was becoming a major problem because it was being spread on social media sites." However, the supporter (z) said in response, "It's very difficult because the match is still in progress. It's not possible." and returned to his seat in the stand (At a hearing conducted by the Club later, the supporters group in question said that "We had no intention of discriminating against anyone or of making a political issue out of it but on reflection we regret that it was an action which could have been interpreted in that way.").

6)Time: Around 17:15
The head security guard (B) reported to the Club headquarters through the security guard company the communication with the supporter (Z) with the conclusion that he had been unable to obtain consent from the supporter (Z).

Because there has been certain arrangement and customary practice between the Club and supporters that banners are removed with the consent of the supporters involved, the Club headquarters instructed the security guard company to, "Remove the banner immediately after the match has finished."

In the circumstances, the Club failed to take any measures such as dispatching a staff member to the site or setting up an emergency task force.

7)Time: Around 17:35
Replying to the fan who said, "Don't you think (the banner) should be removed," the security guard (D) said, "We will deal with it after the end of the game." When the fan said, "I want to take a photograph," the security guard replied, "Please refrain from doing so," because (supporters) are normally asked to refrain from taking photographs in order to prevent any trouble.

8)Time: Around 18:04
After the end of the game, because the supporters group in question had not started to remove the banner in question, the security guard (C) said to the supporter (Z) that he would remove the banner, and the banner was actually removed. At the time there were six Club staff members who knew about the unfurling and removal of the banner in question.

9)Time: Around 22:00
Because the incident had caused a major stir on social media sites, the Club's Public Relations Department started to work on issuing an official message about the incident.

10)Time: Around 23:00
In order to share the official message draft, information regarding the incident was transmitted to senior officers of the Club, including the president.

11)Time: Around 23:50
The first message was posted on the Club's official website.

Considering the totality of the circumstances such as the background of the incident and the site of the banner unfurled, Urawa Reds has considered the banner in question as an act of discrimination.

2.HISTORY TO DATE AND SYSTEMS, ETC.
Overview
•Urawa Reds has, since 2010, been working with organizations connected with the United Nations in promoting the United Nations' SPORTS FOR PEACE! project which aims to provide a safe and enjoyable stadium environment under the theme of "Sports are Battles with Rules." The project was launched in the wake of the supporter trouble occurred during the match between the Vegalta Sendai and Urawa Reds in the same year and its newly established Six Prohibited Items code includes "discriminatory remarks".
•Also in the wake of the supporter trouble occurred in the Shimizu S-Pulse and Urawa Reds 2013 league game, the Club decided to strengthen the measures designed to prevent recurrence of such troubles.
•Before the start of the 2014 season (on February 28) the Club posted a message on its official website saying that it was "Boosting its commitment to the SPORTS FOR PEACE! project," and asking for the understanding and participation of all fans and supporters in "building a safe stadium environment".

Regarding Discriminatory Remarks
•In the J. League Sec. 1 game between Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds, supporters were heard whistling certain players. Whistling can be discriminatory in intent and so from the next week the Club decided to deploy staff at the sides of the pitch and in the stands in order to observe whether any discriminatory remarks are directed at the pitch from the stands.
•The Club considers that the main cause for its failure to handle the banner incident in question, which constituted an act of discrimination, in an appropriate manner was the low degree of sensitivity on the part of Club staff toward discrimination. Other factors include deficiencies in security and management system, as well as an inability to share information within the security firm, between the Club and the security firm and within the Club. Another underlying factor is the existence of long-standing unofficial arrangements between the Club and its supporters regarding the handling of banners, which makes it difficult for the Club to manage such matters in a subjective manner as the organizer. Urawa Red also regrets that the security system on the day in question focused on ensuring there was no smoking and monitoring for discriminatory remarks directed at the pitch from the stand.
•For any reason whatsoever, however, the banner in question should not have been unfurled and in the event that it is unfurled, it should have been removed immediately. The Club recognizes that it committed gross negligence in leaving the banner in place for so long time after it was unfurled.
•On the day of the match, the Club bolstered its security in the stands and kept a close watch from the pitch etc. on whether any discriminatory remarks were directed. While the Club has not observe any remarks from the pitch etc., it was reported by the security personnel posted in the stand behind the goal after the end of the match that he did hear remarks that could be considered discriminatory. For this reason, the Club widely made an appeal to Urawa Reds supporters who were in the stand for any information. As a result, the Club has received information to the effect that there were several men who forced certain supporters to lower their favorite player flags/banners and who were making discriminatory remarks. The Club will further investigate this information in detail and will use it in preparing measures for the future.

3.SANCTIONS
1)Supporters etc.
The Club has banned the supporters group some members of which unfurled the banner from conducting and/or participating in any activities for an indefinite period.

The Club has also banned all members of the supporters group in question from spectating all Urawa Reds games for an indefinite period.

2)Club Staff
The Club considers that the main reason the banner in question could not be removed until the end of the match was due to the Club's management. The Club has accepted the Club president Keizo Fuchida's request that he voluntarily return 20 percent of his director's remuneration for a period of three months.

The Club is also considering taking any disciplinary measures against those employees involved in the incident in accordance with its internal regulations.

4.MEASURES
The Club recognizes that due to the occurrence of the severe incident of “Discriminatory Behavior” on top of several instances of trouble caused by its supporters, it now faces a severe crisis in which it may lose the raison d'etre as a member of the J League and as a sports club.

Urawa Reds hereby declares that it will take this opportunity to change itself. The Club will, from the fundamental point of view, re-examine how "sports" should be and develop and take all measures to become a professional football club in the true sense of the word. The realization of a "home town" in which everyone can feel a sense of happiness in having access to sport, in having a stadium which everyone, regardless of age or gender, can enjoy and which can be utilized by everyone fairly and without prejudice: this is the embodiment of "A safe and enjoyable stadium" and of the "J. League Hundred Year Vision".

In accordance with the FIFA Statutes, the Club is working on eradicating "contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, color, language, religion or origin " and is aiming to thoroughly respect "The dignity of a person or group of persons".

Urawa Reds is fully committed to the United Nations' "SPORTS FOR PEACE" initiative which takes "Sports are Battles -- but they are governed by rules" as its governing theme. Adhering to the spirit of the initiative, the Club is working on building an environment which allows not just its supporters but also all its stakeholders to experience and to convey to others the beauty and the magnificence of sports. This means, of course, that no-one may bring "politics or religion" with them into the stadium.

Despite a difficult and lengthy path, Urawa Reds is purely seeking what a sports club should be. To become such club, Urawa Reds is and will be implementing the measures listed below. The Club will also be considering and implementing other measures which are in line with the declarations stated above.

Immediate Measures
1)The Club will bolster its security systems by increasing the number of security guards and implementing other measures. The Club will implement a fundamental review of systems on communications/reporting and sharing of information as well as the deployment of security guards and its response to various situations. For away games, the Club will send more staff members as part of its efforts to prevent trouble in the stands.
2)From and after the game against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on March 15, the Club will ban all Urawa Reds fans and supporters from using banners, player flags, other flags and decorative banners at all League and Cup matches whether at home or away.

Other Measures
The Club will work to build, through the measures listed below, a football stadium environment which allows everyone -- regardless of age, gender or nationality -- to watch football matches with a sense of safety and reassurance.

1)The Club will draw up a new set of rules with regard to the existing rules and custom between the clubs and its supporters so that the Club can control the environment of the stadium with its responsibility.
2)Making reference to the concepts and statutes of both the FIFA and JFA, which are working on eradicating discriminatory words or actions, the Club will bar supporters who have committed discriminatory acts or words from entering the Stadium for a minimum period of two years.
3)The Club will expand its SPORTS FOR PEACE! project activities to those activities which involve fans and supporters and will accelerate its educational efforts regarding "Support based on rules".
4)The Club will create systems for gathering the opinions of outsiders including fans and supporters, in order to build environment where everybody may watch games with a sense of reassurance, including changes of allocation of seats.
5)The Club will raise the degree of human rights awareness among its staff by giving education on discrimination, with the cooperation from specialists and others in the field of human rights and discrimination.

Banner At Concourse Entrance Gate During J-League Game Between Urawa Reds and Sagan Tosu on March 8