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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 19, 2008

Japan's Reds await fate after crowd violence

TOKYO, May 19 (Reuters) - Asian champions Urawa Reds could face harsh sanctions following violent clashes between rival fans after a J-League game at the weekend.

Gamba Osaka's 3-2 victory at Saitama Stadium on Saturday triggered arguably the worst incident of crowd trouble since the J-League was launched in 1993.

Riot police were mobilised as fans tore down safety fences and ripped up seats while some 5,000 angry Reds fans blocked off the exit for visiting Gamba fans after the game.

The J-League told Reuters on Monday that they would study reports on the crowd violence before deciding what punishments to hand out, but Urawa may face stiff measures.

On Monday, both clubs formally apologised to the J-League.

'As the home team basically the responsibility for crowd control belongs to Urawa,' J-League chairman Kenji Onitake told reporters.

'When the incident began they were not efficient in dealing with the situation. We are thinking about what sanctions to apply in this case.'

Table-toppers Urawa could be fined around $100,000 and even become the first J-League club to have points deducted following shocking scenes in Saitama.

Gamba's players formed a circle and celebrated their first win at Saitama Stadium with a little too much enthusiasm for the Reds players and the majority among the crowd of 57,000.

Urawa's Japan international Tulio stormed over to the Gamba players wagging his finger, sparking a shoving match that quickly spread to the stands.

Missiles were hurled and Reds fans smashed through security fencing to get at the Gamba supporters. Security officials rushed to intervene but not before one Gamba fan toppled over the edge of the stands, lucky only to break a foot.

Around 1,000 Gamba fans spent three hours penned into the ground before being evacuated by police cars and vans once the Urawa fans had been dispersed.

'There was no need to celebrate like that in front of our fans,' fumed Tulio, who had fanned the flames in the build-up to the match by suggesting Urawa could run away with the title.

'You can be happy but they can do that in Osaka. That was over the top. You have to think about where you and show some respect.'

J-League clubs FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol were hit with heavy fines following outbreaks of crowd trouble during the 2005 season.

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