‘It saddens me’: Postecoglou denounces abuse of Celtic’s Japanese hero

Ange Postecoglou has launched an impassioned defence of new Celtic star Kyogo Furuhashi after the Japanese international striker was the target of racist abuse from Rangers fans on social media.

Furuhashi has become an instant hero since Postecoglou brought him to Scotland from J.League club Vissel Kobe, scoring six goals across his first seven games for the Bhoys.

Ange Postecoglou and Kyogo Furuhashi, whom the Australian coach brought to Glasgow from his native Japan.Credit:Getty

But a week out from the first Old Firm derby of the season, the 26-year-old forward was the subject of racist taunts and chants from a group of Rangers supporters in footage that surfaced on social media over the weekend.

Rangers have since issued indefinite bans to the fans identified in the video and the supporters’ club they belong to will not receive tickets for future matches. Police Scotland is making its own inquiries.

Postecoglou said he could not understand what motivates people to make such racist attacks against others.

“To be honest it saddens me a lot, because I’m the one who’s brought him over here,” he said in a video on Celtic’s website.

Celtic import Kyogo Furuhashi has been singled out by some Rangers fans ahead of this week’s first Old Firm derby of the season.Credit:Getty

“I spent three-and-a-half years in Japan and I was a foreigner. I was welcomed with open arms over there. I’ve been lucky enough to walk around Glasgow with my family and you see all the different nationalities, the different establishments, whether that’s restaurants, businesses and it’s obvious people come from all over the world here to make this city a great city.

“I love that, that’s kind of my background – I’m an immigrant. Even if it is a minority [who are racist] it shouldn’t be happening.

“It’s not about education, people are more than well aware of what’s right and wrong. Just be a decent human being and treat people with respect.”

Postecoglou said multiculturalism was also the “beauty of football”, pointing to how players like Shunsuke Nakamura, another former Japanese international, and Swedish striker Henrik Larsson had become legends of Celtic.

“When you start bringing people from outside your own space, whether that’s your nation or even your neighbourhood, that’s when it enriches it. It enriches people’s lives,” he said.

“That’s why people leave their homes and come halfway across the world because they’re good at something. It actually enriches the place that you go to. I’ve always loved that about football.

“Football, I always thought, was a unifier because it didn’t matter where you were from or what sort of economic status you might have had or whatever your background was, you could play this game. It brought people together.

“Having Kyogo here, having [Israeli recruit] Liel Abada here – young men who I think put smiles on people’s faces, I don’t see how people try to make a negative out of that.”

This week shapes as the biggest of Postecoglou’s short tenure at Celtic, with two matches that have the potential to shape their season to come in the space of three days.

On Friday morning (AEST) the Hoops face AZ Alkmaar in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League qualifier. They lead 2-0 after the home leg, and will confirm a spot in the group stage of the tournament with an aggregate victory.

Then on Sunday evening (9pm AEST), Celtic will meet Rangers in the first Old Firm match of the 2021-22 campaign. A capacity crowd of more than 50,000 is expected at Ibrox, but there will be no Celtic fans in attendance due to a ticketing dispute between the two Glasgow clubs.

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