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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Japan coach ‘ashamed and appalled’ by Zion Suzuki racist abuse after Asian Cup game

Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has said he is “ashamed and appalled” by racist abuse directed at national team goalkeeper Zion Suzuki.

Suzuki, 21, was born in Arkansas, United States, to a Ghanaian-American father and a Japanese mother.

Japan fell to a shock 2-1 defeat to Iraq in last week’s Asian Cup group clash, with Suzuki’s mistake allowing Aymen Hussein to give Iraq the lead.

That put Iraq on their path to their first triumph against Japan since 1982, while Suzuki who has been capped six times at international level also made errors in Japan’s opening day 4-2 victory over Vietnam.

The goalkeeper was subjected to racist abuse on social media after the Iraq game, with comments disabled on his Instagram account.

“For our precious player Suzuki, I feel very ashamed and appalled that he was racially discriminated,” Moriyasu said ahead of Japan’s final group stage match against Indonesia on Wednesday.

“I will support him in any way possible to make sure he’s fully concentrated and focused.

“I think this can’t happen in any case. They should respect human rights, it can’t happen in a diverse world.

“We live in a world where these things may happen but through football we must bond together.”

Suzuki is currently on loan at Belgian side Sint-Truiden from Urawa Red Diamonds, having been on Manchester United’s transfer radar last summer.

“I’m not about to let it beat me,” Suzuki said on Monday of the racist abuse.

“I want to come back at them by producing good results.”

Suzuki added: “I know that I’m being held to a higher standard as the goalkeeper of the Japan national team when I concede goals and we lose games.

“I accept that and if I can use that in the next game then there won’t be a problem.”

It comes in the wake of FIFA president Gianni Infantino calling for teams to be forced to automatically forfeit a match if their supporters commit acts of racism and cause abandonments.

Infantino’s remarks came after high-profile incidents on Saturday involving AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan and Coventry City midfielder Kasey Palmer.

Maignan temporarily led the Milan side off during their Serie A match at Udinese, later alleging he had been targeted by “monkey noises” from fans behind his goal. Palmer alleged he was targeted by similar abuse from Sheffield Wednesday supporters during Coventry’s away match in the Championship.

(Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)



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