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Japan braces for unfriendly China supporters

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Sep 2010

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Japan’s football chief has vowed to do everything possible to prevent Tokyo’s diplomatic spat with Beijing over an incident in disputed waters from spoiling upcoming tournaments in China.

“It will be terribly shocking if booing starts when our national anthem is played,” Japan Football Association president Junji Ogura told Japanese media.

“We want to take every possible step with the help of the Chinese (football) association,” added Ogura, who also heads the East Asian Football Federation, in comments published Tuesday.

“I am worried. The football world in particular needs special care.”

China will host the under-19 Asian football championships in October and the multi-sport Asian Games in November.

Japan’s September 7 arrest of a Chinese captain suspected of ramming his trawler into two Japanese coastguard ships near disputed islands in the East China Sea has flared into a fierce diplomatic row.

China has put off various exchanges with Japan, from high-level diplomatic contacts to a concert tour by Japanese pop band SMAP after a Japanese court on Sunday extended the captain’s detention for continued investigations.

The Japanese national football team have bitter memories of facing hostile and abusive Chinese supporters at tournaments in China.

At the 2004 Asian Cup in China, local spectators booed the Japanese team even when their national anthem was played, reflecting deep-rooted antipathy dating back to Japan’s World War II aggression.

The 2004 event ended with a near riot after the final in Beijing, where Japan beat China 3-1, when a Japanese diplomat’s car was attacked.

At the 2008 East Asian championships in Chongqing, local spectators booed the Japanese national anthem, continuously jeered Japanese players and burned some Japanese national flags.

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