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For my beloved club - Always have respect Vol.91

21 January 2021

For my beloved club - Always have respect Vol.91

Four months after the J.League resumed in late June to early July, there has been no major incidents other than one club in J1 postponing matches due to the occurrence of a “cluster” (as of 31 October). Despite the tight schedule, matches progressed smoothly, allowing the league to meet its requirement for the season to be official. This is a result of the “organisational capability” and “unified efforts” of the J.League and its 54 clubs, which have taken careful measures immediately before the spread of COVID-19, setting up strict “protocol,” and gradually lifting the restrictions on the number of the spectators.

In October, the use of “sounding objects” such as drums was permitted, the number of spectators were allowed up to half of the stadium’s capacity, and alcohol sales at the stadium resumed (each club decided depending on each situation).

However, the number of fans and supporters returning to the stadiums did not necessarily reach the set “capacity.” In the match between Urawa Red Diamonds and Vegalta Sendai (at Saitama Stadium 2002) played on 18 October, although it was decided to sell up to 24,000 admission tickets, the actual number of spectators was only 9,831. It may have been due to Urawa's poor form (four consecutive losses at home before this match) and the unfortunate weather, but more than anything, many fans must have felt that it was still unsafe to attend the stadium.

Even FC Tokyo, who saw their stadium fill up nearly to the set capacity during the “5,000 people limit,” had trouble exceeding 10,000 people. In the Tokyo edition of the Asahi Shimbun issued on 17 October, an article wrote, “Some fans have decided not to attend matches because they are concerned about people getting too close to each other and because there are people shouting despite being prohibited to do so.”

Viruses are invisible. No one knows when or where they can get infected. However, it has been reported that by washing hands thoroughly and by wearing masks, the risk of getting infected and the risk of infecting others when you hold the virus are reduced significantly.

If going to matches using public transportation is part of our “daily lives,” we must all follow the rules and strive to prevent the infection from spreading. In order to allow our neighbouring fans to enjoy the match with peace of mind, we must leave one seat open, wear masks, and refrain from speaking out loudly.

The reason why “clusters” have not been reported from J.League attendance so far, is because the fans and supporters who visited the matches have taken responsible actions. There we can see the spirit of “respect.” Respect for the fans and supporters around you, and above all, respect for the J.League, which gives us extraordinary emotional experiences, not only the feeling of happiness when winning the match, but also the applause to encourage the players in a loss.

No matter how strict the “rules for spectators” are set by the J.League and how hard the club staff try to follow the “protocol,” if each fan and supporter who visits the stadium does not have such respect, the 2020 season would not have progressed this smoothly.

When you go out, you’ll find almost everyone wearing a mask on public transportation such as trains and buses, at stations where people gather, and at shopping streets and shops. It is not only a “guard” to protect yourself and others, but also an expression of respect that gives peace of mind to the people around you. Awareness for others and the spirit of respect are part of the great virtues of the Japanese society.

It is unavoidable to let out a cry of joy when you see a brilliant play during a match. However, unlike such natural reactions, you must be aware that the act of making a loud voice, such as disagreeing with the referee, make people nervous. If you scare the people around you and make them not want to come to the stadium, it is your beloved club who suffers the most. The respect for the fans and supporters around you is a sign of your love towards the club.

Written by OSUMI Yoshiyuki (Football Journalist)

*This article was originally posted on the Japan Football Association Newsletter, “JFAnews,” November 2020 edition.

Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews”

The Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews” contains all the information on the Japan National Team, and all the events hosted by the JFA. Tournament results and team information throughout the nation are also available. The official monthly magazine is a must read for coaches, referees, and all members of the football family.

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