Japan’s Gamba apologizes over SS-like flag

Wu Xi , left, of Jiangsu FC controls the ball, during the AFC Champions League group stage football match against Japan's Gamba Osaka, in Nanjing earlier this month. (AP)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Japan’s Gamba apologizes over SS-like flag

TOKYO: Japanese J-League side Gamba Osaka has apologized after a flag reportedly bearing markings similar to those of the Nazi SS was displayed during a recent match.
Gamba supporters were seen waving a flag with the markings “very similar to the symbol” of the Nazi paramilitary organization in the form of a double S during a game on Sunday, team spokesman Kenji Okunaga told AFP on Friday.
“We apologize to our supporters, fans and many others for causing discomfort,” Gamba said on its website Thursday, pledging it “will take strict measures once we find out” who was responsible.
“We are talking with people who are believed to have displayed the flag, but we’ve not yet identified who did it,” Okunaga said, declining to elaborate on what kind of measures the team may take.
The incident came after the J-League in 2014 ordered the Urawa Red Diamonds, one of its teams, to play in an empty stadium as punishment for a “Japanese only” banner that fans displayed during a match in Tokyo.
The J-league prohibits displays of any kind linked to political ideology, religion or race and also bans racial and other forms of discrimination.
The waving of the flag by Gamba supporters was reported to a team official after the game at opponent Cerezo Osaka, and Gamba confirmed it.
But the team said Sunday’s case was similar to a previous incident, which took place several years ago.
Then Gamba Osaka only issued a warning to the supporter group that displayed it as it was determined there was no political intention behind it, the team said on the website.
But the repeat offense Sunday “can never be tolerated and is extremely regrettable,” Gamba said.
Periodic actions and comments in Japan deemed anti-Semitic have drawn controversy and international criticism, though ignorance rather than malicious intent has usually been blamed.
Last year, Sony Music and the producer behind a Japanese girl band apologized for having the singers perform in military-style costumes resembling Nazi uniforms.
And rock band Kishidan angered the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2011 when they wore a costume the Jewish human rights organization organization said resembled a Nazi uniform.


Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

Updated 24 June 2018
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Late stunner from Toni Kroos gives Germany vital win over Sweden

  • Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece
  • Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F

SOCHI: Toni Kroos has revived Germany's World Cup hopes with a superb late strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win for the defending champions over Sweden.
Kroos curled a right-foot shot from the left edge of the area inside the far post after a set piece, with Germany down to 10 men. He tapped the ball to Marco Reus from the free kick and then launched his strike into the top corner.
Germany needed at least a draw to stay in contention in Group F after opening with a loss to Mexico. It is now second in the group, three points behind Mexico and level with Sweden. Mexico had a 2-1 victory over winless South Korea 2-1 earlier Saturday.
Sweden opened the scoring with Ola Toivonen in the first half after a counterattack that started with a passing mistake by Kroos' near midfield.
Reus equalized three minutes into the second half with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Timo Werner.
Germany played the final minutes with 10 men as Jerome Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card for a hard challenge on Marcus Berg.
Halftime substitute Mario Gomez had one of the best chances for Germany with a close-range header in the 88th that was saved by goalkeeper Robin Olsen.