Japan’s national squad at the Asian Cup is rallying behind goalkeeper Zion Suzuki, who faced racial abuse online, according to their coach on Tuesday.
Following Japan’s unexpected 2-1 defeat to Iraq in Doha, 21-year-old Suzuki, whose father is Ghanaian-American and mother Japanese, revealed that he was subjected to racial abuse on social media. This incident comes on the heels of two recent instances of racist abuse targeting players in Italy and England during matches.
Ahead of Japan’s upcoming match against Indonesia on Wednesday, coach Hajime Moriyasu emphasized that racism is unacceptable. He stated, “Zion is an important player for Japan, and I strongly object to the people who violated his human rights and racially abused him.” Moriyasu expressed the team’s unwavering support for Suzuki, stating, “If it has caused Zion stress or harm, then he has the full support of the whole team. I want him to feel comfortable and to be able to fully concentrate on his football.”
In response to recent incidents, FIFA President Gianni Infantino called for global stadium bans for fans and “automatic forfeits” for teams whose supporters engage in racist abuse. Over the weekend, fans directed monkey chants at France goalkeeper Mike Maignan during AC Milan’s match at Udinese, resulting in a temporary halt to the game. Additionally, Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer accused Sheffield Wednesday fans of similar behavior during their Championship clash, which Coventry won 2-1 on Saturday.
Coach Moriyasu emphasized the unifying power of football, stating, “Football is a sport that can connect countries and people.”