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Hi Blog. We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment negatively. But look closely at this case and some odd thoughts come up. According to the press (English-language ones first, then Japanese, translated):
Japanese soccer player Yuki Nakamura quits Slovakian club due to racial abuse
By Ida Torres / January 31, 2013 /
Japanese soccer striker Yuki Nakamura has quit his Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota saying his club and his teammates did nothing to support or protect him from the racial abuse targeted at him by supporters.
“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” Nakamura posted on his blog. The 25 year old, on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov, said that fans would hurl racial slurs at him before and after games. When he told the club about it, they said there was nothing they could do about it. He decided he couldn’t continue living there and decided to just come home to Japan. He has previously played in Romania and the Czech Republic.
Other Japanese players have also experienced difficulties while playing overseas. Most recently in 2011, Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted by opposing fans with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” in reference to the nuclear disaster from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Racism in football is still a persistent, serious problem and FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes it is one of the biggest scourges in the sport. He believes points should be deducted from teams in cases of racial abuse. Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan, who also plays for the national team of Ghana, walked out of a friendly match against Pro Patria after fans didn’t stop their “monkey” chants, even after being called out by the stadium announcer. United State’s Jozy Altidore is also another recent victim of racist chants, during a Dutch Cup game for his club AZ. The referee wanted to halt the fixture after fans continued hurling abuse at him, but Altidore asked for the game to continue.
Nakamura quits Slovakian club over racism
JAPAN TODAY, SPORTS JAN. 31, 2013 – 07:00AM JST ( 24 )TOKYO —
Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he has left Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota because he was a target of racist abuse.
“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” the 25-year-old Nakamura wrote on his blog on Wednesday.
Nakamura, who has also played in Romania and the Czech Republic, says supporters would hurl abuse at him before and after games and that none of his teammates would offer help.
“This is not normal,” said Nakamura, who was on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov. “Some type of threat was made to the club but they said there was nothing they could do about it, so I came home. I doubt there are many players that have experienced this.”
Several Japanese players have encountered difficulties while playing overseas. In 2011, former Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” by opposing fans in reference to the nuclear disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently reiterated his belief in deducting points from teams in cases of racial abuse — which he believes is the one of the biggest scourges in soccer.
Nakamura quits club over ‘racism’
Agence France-Presse February 01, 2013
TOKYO: Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he returned home over intolerable racism at Slovak club Rimavska Sobota, adding that the side had received threats over his appearances.
The incident is the latest in a string of racially-linked incidents in European football, with Italian giants Lazio fined a total of 140,000 euros ($190,000) by UEFA on Wednesday after their Europa League clashes against Tottenham and Maribor were marred by racist chanting.
In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura, 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates.
“Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.
Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”.
“No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added.
“It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.
Nakamura played in Romania and the Czech Republic before joining Rimavska Sobota on loan in July last year.
Even more at EIN World News Report.
Compare these with the Japanese-language reports below (my translation, then originals)
Japanese Soccer Forward quits club due to severe discrimination
Sankei Sports, January 31, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)
Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, wrote on his own blog on January 30 that “I received racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer live there, so I came back to Japan”, making clear that he had quit his team.
According to his blog, Nakamura had already returned to Japan by last September. The target of racial discrimination from soccer fans, he also made clear that teammates would side with them. “Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me. It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too,” Nakamura wrote in detail.
In addition, Nakamura reported that the club explained to him, “We cannot take responsibility if threats come to the team.”
Nakamura began playing for a Rumanian club after graduating from Kokushikan University. In 2012 he switched to the Viktoria Zizkov team in the Czech League, and in August he was on loan to MSK Rimavska Sobota.
Regarding incidents of racial discrimination towards Japanese players, in August 2011, Japan Team Goalie Kawashima Eiji, then a member of club Lierse in the Belgian League, was jeered at fans during a game where they said “Kawashima, Fukushima!” in reference to the nuclear accident. This led to Kawashima protesting to the head referee and interrupting the game.
The soccer world is thick with (habikoru) problems of racial discrimination, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (76) has is considering deducting winning points from any team which engages in racial discrimination.
TRANSLATION ENDS. ORIGINAL FOLLOWS
http://www.sanspo.com/soccer/news/20130131/int13013119100002-n1.html, courtesy of HS
Japanese soccer player in overseas league confesses that “racial discrimination” made him “unable to live there anymore”
RBB Today/Livedoor Sports, February 1, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)
Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of second-tier Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, blogged that he had been subject to racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer carry on living there.
On January 30, in a blog entry entitled “The truth is…”, he wrote “This time I wanted to return to Japan sooner than usual. So by the end of September I was back,” reporting that he had already come home. “It’s a shame, but because I received racial discrimination at MSK I couldn’t live there anymore and so came home,” clarifying why he came home earlier than usual.
The treatment that Nakamura called “racial discrimination” was, as reported, “There were many things that made me think ‘Would such a thing happen in this day and age?’ Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me. It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too.” Nakamura also added that “things that looked like threats” also happened to the team. But since the team wouldn’t take responsibility (for Nakamura’s safety), it looks like he made the decision to leave.
On Nakamura’s blog in August before he repatriated, Nakamura reported about recent play and living conditions, “Honestly, I’m tired. I’m the only gaijin [sic] on this team and there are lots of communication problems;” “Well, it doesn’t matter where you go in this world, there’ll always be problems, right?’ Problems and adverse conditions. It’s times like those when you really have to think about how to think about them,” showing the difficulties he was having with playing for overseas teams. On his most recent blog entry, when he revealed how severe the bashing he was getting overseas, he said, “I think few other sportsperson have had this kind of experience,” concluding his blog entry with a positive feeling.
[Last paragraph of the article details his former Japanside career as a soccer player.]
TRANSLATION ENDS. ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOLLOWS
RBB TODAY 2013年01月30日13時23分
http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/7363415/, courtesy of AS
As Submitter AS notes: Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination. People giving him the finger? With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.
As Submitter HS notes: I find it very interesting how low the bar is for Japanese to scream “racism” overseas. Someone yells “Kawashima Fukushima” during a soccer game and Kawashima stops the game to protest?? And the Japanese media consider this taunt to be “racism”?? Surely the jeer is not appropriate but racism???
Try looking for an apartment – a place to live! – and being told “No!” simply because you are not Japanese. THAT’S racism. But why do I get the feeling that the Japanese media would make excuses, justify, and attempt to convince me that this is not racism but just a big misunderstanding on MY PART?
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I just find it interesting the difference in treatment in the media and public argument. Nakamura essentially has a nervous breakdown due to the taunts, and then both the Japanese and overseas media report it as racial discrimination, put it in a larger context, and don’t question Nakamura’s claims. Yet when we get the same kind of jeering in Japan of NJ (Shimizu S-Pulse’s Coach Ghotbi being accused in 2011 by supporters in a banner of being connected to Iranian nuclear weapons; or official-level jeers: Japan’s Ekiden running leagues justifying extra hurdles for NJ athletes by claiming that sports are only interesting for Japanese fans if Japanese win them; or claims by Japan’s rugby union not winning because they have “too many foreign players” (including naturalized Japanese); and how about Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s 2012 remarks about NJ judo Olympians being “beasts” spoiling “Japan’s sport”?), nobody calls it “racial discrimination” in the Japanese press (if the foreign press pay any attention to it at all). Racial discrimination only seems to happen overseas.
Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan? Buried in cultural relativism. You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura. I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas. But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”. He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims (dollars to donuts they would dismiss his claim of “racial discrimination” as cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity) but also his mental stability.
That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case. Now why? Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard? Arudou Debito
Nakamura’s blog, cited in the articles above:
UPDATE FEB 2, 2013:
Debito here. Let me make a clarification to my post, since some people (off list) aren’t getting it:
Here’s what I am and am not saying:
- I am NOT saying that Nakamura has no standing to have a complaint about the way he was felt he was treated.
- I am NOT saying that Nakamura should have stayed on if he felt that way.
- I am NOT saying that because racial discrimination (RD) also exists in Japan that Nakamura has no standing to claim RD in Europe.
- I AM saying that the standards for what is called RD in Europe and in Japan seem to be different.
- I AM saying that it is ironic that unequal treatment towards NJ sportspeople in Japan is not similarly decried as RD.
- I AM saying that if international sports authorities are willing to acknowledge Nakamura’s treatment in European sports leagues as RD, those same international sports authorities (not to mention pundits and media commentators) should also have something similarly critical to say about the way NJ sportspeople are treated in Japan as well.
Thus, the irony I am pointing out is not that Nakamura claimed RD. The irony is that Japan’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin is not held to the same standard as Europe’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin.
For Nakamura, the threshold (based upon the standards of proof that he offered) was much lower than what people claim (and find their claims discounted for “cultural reasons”). Again, if any NJ quit his Japanese team due to getting the “stink eye” and “the finger” from the stands, nobody would take him or her at all seriously. It’s sweet that people (both European and Japanese) did in Nakamura’s case. But let’s universalize the thresholds and standards, shall we?