Fans of Jeonbuk Motors stopped short of launching into a chorus of ‘You’re just a crap Chernobyl’ when their team faced Cerezo Osaka in the Asian Champions League quarter-final second leg this week, but there wasn’t much in it. The K-League side upset their guests when fans revealed a banner expressing joy at the catastrophic earthquake that struck their near neighbours in March of this year.
‘Let’s celebrate Japan’s big earthquake’ read the slogan – that’s the earthquake that killed over 15,000 people and resulted in a near nuclear disaster that would have had repercussions far beyond Japan’s borders. In response to the rather incendiary provocation, the Japanese club were remarkably reserved, pointing out they understood the banner to be the work of a few bad eggs rather than the club’s entire fanbase, “However, with something like that being said about our country we felt we had to make a complaint.” It really showcases some top drawer insensitivity. And a poor understanding of the possibility of radioactive fallout being moved west by the prevailing trade winds in the region.
There’s an abundance of childish ‘our club are better than your club’ banners everywhere, but here’s 5 of football’s more distasteful banners:
PSG to Lens fans – 2008
‘Paedophiles, unemployed and inbred: Welcome up to the sticks’
Oh the French might like to think they’re very high-minded and humanistic, but they don’t half know how to cause some needle. The banner was created by the notorious “Boulogne Boys” – a group of PSG ‘fans’ famed for their violence. On this occasion it was the French League Cup final. Nicolas Sarkozy was in attendance and the PSG fans took the high-profile opportunity to insult the people of Lens and surrounding area. In its heyday, the region was a busy hive of activity based on mining, but as with so many other places across Europe, the decline of the industry heralded a period of social and economic struggle. Think the north of England in the 80s only with a lot more garlic.
This was really just one of several you could pick from the vast back catalogue of offensive banners they’ve produced down through the years. Once, when the Bordeaux fans attempted to intimidate the men and women of the Boulonge Boys with a sign that read ‘We’ll rob the Boys and rape the Girls’, the female members of the group responded with one that read with the anatomically correct observation ‘you’d need a hard-on for that’. That line and variations of it have since gone on to become the staple joke of Two and a Half Men for many years.
Slovan Bratislava – 2007
‘Happy birthday Adolf’
This one wasn’t even an attempt to needle an opponent, which somehow makes it even worse and even more gratuitous. Trying to wind up an opponent doesn’t certainly excuse these type of banners, but doing it for no other reason than expressing a liking for the Nazi leader makes it more disturbing. During a game in 2007 on the day of Hitler’s birth, fans of Slovan revealed a banner wishing the Fuhrer a happy birthday and featuring a smiley face fashioned to look like a Hitler version of the 90s rave iconography. Nasty.
Lazio – 2001
‘Team of blacks, stand of Jews’
The Rome club will forever be tarnished with the brush of fascism due to the special place Benito Mussolini held for the club in his heart, but they also don’t seem to mind taking out the brush and giving themselves a good tarnishing every now and then. The brutal dictator has long since been strung up, but the clubs links with fascist ideology remain, most notably fostered by Paulo Di Canio. Over the years, they’ve used the medium of cloth and stitching to express fondness for Serbian warlord, Arkan and Nazi genocide. This slogan was unfurled during a crucial Rome derby a decade ago when both teams were in the running for the Scudetto. It is so obviously trying to be deliberately offensive it almost goes full circle to being pointlessly and harmlessly offensive. Almost. It’s still pretty offensive even when you take into account it was created by morons in the midst of Derby fever. The club were fined 60 millions lira, which – knowing the Italian football authorities – was probably about £2 fine for racism and £98 for poor grammar.
Jubilo Iwata – 2011
‘Ghotbi, stop producing nuclear weapons’
Maybe part of the reason as to why the Japanese team didn’t milk the moral high ground to it’s fullest extent is down to the fact the J-League isn’t entirely free of the occasional offensive banner. Back in May, Jubilo Iwata were forced to apologies to their local rivals after the Shizuoka derby following the unveiling of a slogan needlessly attacking the Iranian head coach of Shimizu S-Pulse, Afshin Ghotbi. Sadly, the laudable anti-nuclear weaponry message of the banner is lost due to the more noticeable element of racism although Ghotbi didn’t help himself when appearing to endorse the election of lightning rod of western ire, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his second term as Iranian president. His politics may be questionable, but that’s far removed from having your own nuclear programme. Plus it’s just factually incorrect – from our experience, football managers of all nationalities struggle to put together vaguely innovative set-pieces, let alone develop viable nuclear war-pieces.
Resovia Rzeszow – 2010
‘Death to the Crooked Noses’
Yes, more anti-Semitic sentiment, this time from Poland. Sadly there are possibly hundreds of examples of anti-Jewish hatred from across European football, but this one is notable for the dedicated art-work. Again, it seems to be more a general expression of hatred rather than having a go at the opposition – although there is a vague connection via the club’s colours and the colours of the Israeli flag. An offensive slogan is one thing, but backing it up with a more offensive picture takes real hard work. The occasion was the Rzeszow derby in Poland’s second Division East and the not so heat-warming statement “Death to the Crooked Noses” was backed up with arguably the least favourable visual representation of a Jewish person not featured in a Mel Gibson movie.