Football: Japan's Gamba Osaka fined $24,700 over 'Nazi' flag

Japan's Gamba Osaka players during the AFC Champions League football match at Suita Stadium in Osaka prefecture on April 25, 2017.
Japan's Gamba Osaka players during the AFC Champions League football match at Suita Stadium in Osaka prefecture on April 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's professional football J-League on Thursday announced a fine of two million yen (S$24,700) on Gamba Osaka after the club's supporters waved a flag similar to Nazi SS insignia.

The flag, which bore a double 'S' in the style of the Nazi paramilitary force, was seen during Gamba's 2-2 draw against city rivals Cerezo Osaka on April 16.

Gamba said late last month that it had told the supporters' group responsible to disband, and slapped an indefinite ban on the display of all banners by the team's fans.

On Thursday, J-League officials said it decided to punish the club for failing to prevent the incident from happening.

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The club "immediately identified the supporter group in question and took swift and appropriate measures," the J-league said on its website.

"However, the club's efforts to establish a system of monitoring supporter activities and enlightening them is not enough to meet its important responsibility of preventing discriminatory action from happening," it said.

Gamba officials were not immediately available for comment.

But a team official said last month that a similar incident had occurred in 2014 and the club has issued a warning to the supporters.

Also in 2014, J-League side Urawa Red Diamonds were forced to play in an empty stadium as punishment for a "Japanese only" banner unfurled during a match in Tokyo.

The J-League prohibits displays of any kind linked to political ideology, religion or race and also bans racial and other forms of discrimination.