Japan's national soccer team coach Hajime Moriyasu condemned the racial abuse directed at goalkeeper Zion Suzuki following their Asian Cup loss against Iraq.
The big picture: On Jan.19, Iraq upset Japan, Asia's top-ranked team (17th globally), with a 2-1 victory in the Asian Cup Group D stage. The win allowed Iraq to take the top spot in the group and a guaranteed place in the knockout rounds, while Japan had to settle for second.
Japan would later bounce back on Jan. 24 with a 3-1 victory over Indonesia, ensuring them a top-two finish and qualification for the round of 16. Meanwhile, Iraq solidified its top position in the group with a 3-2 win over Vietnam.
Moriyasu’s message: During a press conference on Jan. 23, Moriyasu expressed his dismay at the criticisms Suzuki received for his performance during the Jan. 19 loss, which then escalated into discriminatory comments on social media platforms. He asserted that such behavior is unacceptable and emphasized the role of soccer in bridging nations and promoting inclusivity.
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"For our precious player Suzuki, I feel very ashamed and appalled that he was racially discriminated,” Moriyasu said, according to Reuters. “I will support him in any way possible to make sure he's fully concentrated and focused."
Suzuki’s response: The soccer goalie, who is of Ghanaian American and Japanese descent, acknowledged the validity of performance-related critiques but urged against discriminatory remarks about his race. He expressed his determination to silence his detractors by performing better in future matches.
Suzuki's Instagram comments section remains disabled following the deluge of discriminatory messages.
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