RB Leipzig apologise to Japanese fans for coronavirus 'error'
Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig have apologised after ejecting 20 Japanese fans from their stadium on Sunday due to fears they were carrying the coronavirus.
Security staff at the Red Bull Arena for the 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen moved in to ask them to leave just ten minutes into the game.
A statement released by the club on Monday admitted: “A mistake was made on our part with respect to our Japanese guests... in light of this mistake, we would like to extend our apologies.
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“As for our handling of the coronavirus issue, we will continue to work thoroughly and on a daily basis with the authorities in order to try and reach the best possible solution for all of our guests.”
The club admitted that the ground's security personnel had been instructed to intensify checks regarding the admission of certain groups due to potential risk.
One fan had posted on Twitter about the incident, saying he was allowed into the stadium without any issues.
His tweet, which has since been deleted, then said: "After the game started, a security guard in the Red Bull Arena said to me that I could be infected with the coronavirus because I am Japanese."
“I was kicked out within the first ten minutes of the game,” he added.
Leipzig later confirmed they had since met with the affected group.
“Given the reaction to the incident in question we have since met and invited them back, as well as offering them our sincere apologies once again," a second club statement said.
“We would also like to take this time to highlight our values as a club. We stand for tolerance, integration and acceptance and are completely opposed to racism or discrimination in any form.
“Our team unites players from 14 different countries and various cultures, which is something that we are proud of.”
The statement went on: “During the incident in question, which took place within a heightened feeling of concern surrounding the highly sensitive issue of the coronavirus, our security personnel chose the wrong course of action, which is something that we openly acknowledge.”
A spokesperson for those affected, some of whom are participants of a yearly intensive course on sports business in Leipzig, added: “We were well aware at all times that this incident occurred due to the concern associated with the coronavirus, not due to anything else.
“In accordance with that, we hosted a constructive dialogue on how to proceed. We are now focused on moving forward to strengthen our relationship with RB Leipzig.”
Before the game, fans had put on a display with a banner reading: 'Love, peace and rasenball', a play on the club's controversial name.
Coronavirus has already affected European football, with five Serie A games cancelled in Italy at the weekend and no games to be played until March 8 in the regions affected in Italy's top flight.