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SBD Global/July 31, 2013/International Football

Japan Minister Protests Political Banner Displayed During East Asian Cup Final

Japan said Monday that "it has protested at the display of a banner criticizing Tokyo" when its football team played South Korea in the final match of the East Asian Cup in Seoul, according to the TAIPEI TIMES. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the display was "extremely regrettable." Suga said the Japanese government "will respond appropriately based on FIFA rules when the facts are revealed." The Japan FA "has submitted a letter of protest to the East Asian Football Federation." South Korean fans displayed a giant banner reading: "There is no future for people who have forgotten their past" -- a reference to Japan's reluctance to acknowledge its colonial and militaristic history, including in Korea (TAIPEI TIMES, 7/30). KYODO reported Japan Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said, "It calls into question the nature of the people in the country. It's regrettable that a political message was aired at a sporting event" (KYODO, 7/30). YONHAP reported "South Korea has no plan to address the controversy." A day after the match, an official with the Korea FA said that "the national football governing body doesn't plan to discuss the banner." The official said, "Japanese officials expressed some concerns about it during the game. But we didn't receive any official complaint afterward" (YONHAP, 7/29).

BANNER CONTROVERSY: In Bangkok, Tor Chittinand wrote Liverpool "fans caused controversy during the Reds' friendly against Thailand" on Sunday night. Fans carried an anti-ManU banner at Rajamangala National Stadium, where the "English club ended their Asia tour with a 3-0 win." Fans carried a banner ridiculing ManU at the stadium, "which was seen during the live telecast." The sign read: "Alex Ferguson. Out working. Go to the hell. 20 = kong [cheat]. Munich 58." "Munich 58" was apparently a reference to the '58 air accident in Munich, in which several United players were killed. It was heavily criticized on popular Thai websites, and former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore called the fans "idiots." Collymore tweeted, "As for disrespectful banners, idiots whoever they support. Glorifying death is never clever, just plain stupid." In a separate tweet, Collymore wrote, "Munich, Hillsborough, Shankly etc. If you make banners or sing songs about them, you're a wanker" (BANGKOK POST, 7/30).
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