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Police question ex-Nihon U. coaches

Kyodo

Police have questioned two former coaches of Nihon University’s American football team on a voluntary basis after one of its players who injured an opponent with a dangerous tackle said he was ordered by the two to do so, investigative sources said on Friday.

Former head coach Masato Uchida and former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue have repeated the claims they made at a May 23 news conference that they did not order the linebacker to attack the quarterback of archrival Kwansei Gakuin University, saying the player misinterpreted their instructions, according to the sources.

The police are looking into the foul play as a possible case of assault and intend to further question the two and also hear from Taisuke Miyagawa, 20, who carried out the tackle, the sources said.

Miyagawa revealed at a news conference on May 22 that he had followed the instructions of Uchida and Inoue in tackling the quarterback from behind after the Kwansei player had already finished throwing the ball during an intercollegiate game on May 6.

The latest police questioning was held as Kosei Okuno, the quarterback injured by the play, filed a criminal complaint against Uchida and Inoue on May 31 while asking investigators to show leniency toward Miyagawa. The two athletes have reached a settlement.

The police have already heard from other players and are analyzing images of the game in question.

Although the two former coaches denied the allegation, the Kantoh Collegiate Football Association, the governing body of college American football in Tokyo, concluded through its own investigation that the two ordered the foul play and expelled them in June. The two have appealed the lifetime ban.

Nihon University was also banned from competition during the 2018 season. It announced the dismissal of Uchida and Inoue as employees of the university in late July.

Both resigned their coaching roles in May in the wake of the incident, which stirred controversy nationwide.