Racism, a problem which is pretty uncommon in Japan, has reared its ugly head this past week following events and post-match accusations from the second division J-League match between Ventforet Kofu and Tokyo Verdy last Wednesday night.
The match descended into chaos at the full time whistle after a dramatic end to the match. After the hosts levelled at 1-apiece 15 minutes from time, visiting striker Onishi headed in an injury time winner for Kofu. But before the match could restart a farce broke out on the field as Verdy’s Brazilian centre-forward Leandro became visibly irritated, uncontrollable and eventually even violent.
The fracas unfolded with the match officials brandishing a yellow card to Leandro after what appeared to be a disciplinary measure for the over-zealous complaining by the Brazilian. However, rather then let matters settle, Leandro opted to charge at the referees. Thankfully his teammates stopped the number 10 before he could reach the men in yellow.
Incensed, a group of players took it upon themselves to take the fuming Leandro to one side, with one bulky six-footed finally bear-hugging the striker off the pitch. After taking almost two minutes to exit the turf, Leandro then lost it again as soon as he crossed the white line, appearing to kick out in the direction of the dug-out although it is unclear who his intended target was.
Following the match events took a 180 degree twist. Turning himself from aggressor into the victim, Leandro accused Kofu defender Arata Sugiyama had called him a “chimpanzee” in Portuguese.
For his part, Sugiyama, who is also alleged to have waved his arms in the air in an apparent ape-like gesture, has denied making any remarks to Leandro saying “I didn’t say it. I don’t speak Portuguese.”
The J-League have acted by doing nothing, deciding that no punitive measures will be handed out as claims of racism cannot be verified.
Footage of Leandro’s meltdown can be seen here.