Lee: J.League must stamp out racism

Urawa Reds striker Tadanari Lee wants the J.League to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards racism like the Premier League.

Lee was involved in the first ever J.League game to be played behind closed doors on Sunday as his Urawa side drew 1-1 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse at the Saitama Stadium 2002.

That came after Reds fans were punished for displaying a banner which had the words 'Japanese Only' written on it during a clash against Sagan Tosu on March 8.

Born to Zainichi Korean parents but raised in Tokyo and a Japan international, Lee – who joined Urawa from Southampton in January – said the J.League had work to do on racism.

"Of course there are times when I feel it," Lee was quoted as saying by The Japan Times.

"One thing I can say is that sport is not something to bring discrimination into. I'm a football player and all I want to do is play football. I'd really like this kind of thing to stop.

"When this kind of incident (the banner) happens in the Premier League, even if it's just a small thing, they come down really hard on it. The clubs are really good about that over there."

Promotion of the UN's Sports for Peace program was seen throughout the empty, 63,700-capacity stadium just outside Tokyo on Sunday, in place of advertising signage.

Lee said players had a huge role to play in ensuring the public were aware of the issues facing the league.

"I'd like people to have a greater awareness of this issue," he said.

"Through the media, a lot of people know what this game was all about and why it happened.

"We wore the Sports for Peace T-shirts and we were happy to play our part. Hopefully we can keep doing so."

In the Premier League, Chelsea captain John Terry and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez have both been banned in the past few years for racial abuse.

Terry was fined and accepted a four-game ban for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand, while Suarez was banned for eight matches – and fined – for his comments towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra in games in October 2011.