Japanese fans banned over 'Nazi' flag

J-league.(Getty Images)
J-league.(Getty Images)

Tokyo - Japan's Gamba Osaka have banned dozens of fans indefinitely after a flag similar to the Nazi SS insignia was waved during a J-League football match.

The flag, which bore a double 'S' in the style of the Nazi paramilitary force, was seen during Gamba's 2-2 draw against city rivals Cerezo Osaka on April 16.

Gamba said on its website that it has told the supporters' group responsible to disband, and that all banners were also prohibited indefinitely.

"We spotted the group, which comprises about 60 to 70 people," team spokesman Kenji Okunaga said Friday.

"Most of them are Japanese but it also includes some foreigners."

The supporters' group "did not have any political intention, but they were the same one to whom we issued a warning over a similar incident back in 2014", Okunaga said.

"So we decided to take these measures," he said.

The J-League prohibits displays of any kind linked to political ideology, religion or race and also bans racial and other forms of discrimination.

In 2014, Urawa Red Diamonds were forced to play in an empty stadium as punishment for a "Japanese only" banner unfurled during a match in Tokyo.

Periodic actions and comments in Japan deemed anti-Semitic have drawn controversy and international criticism, though ignorance has usually been blamed.

Last year, Sony Music and the producer behind a Japanese girl band apologised for having the singers perform in Nazi-style military uniforms.

And rock band Kishidan angered the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2011 when they wore a costume that the Jewish human rights organisation said resembled a Nazi uniform.

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