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Police question ex-Nihon Univ. American football coaches over dirty tackle case

In this file photo dated May 23, 2018, Masato Uchida, right, former head coach of Nihon University's American football team, and ex-coach Tsutomu Inoue field questions at a news conference at the university in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has questioned two former coaches of the Nihon University American football club on a voluntary basis over orders they allegedly issued to a linebacker to carry out a dirty tackle that injured an opposing player in May, sources close to the investigation said on Aug. 17.

Former head coach Masato Uchida and ex-coach Tsutomu Inoue apparently denied the allegations, maintaining the position they have held publicly since the scandal broke. A victim's report has been filed against the pair accusing them of inflicting injury on a Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback with a late tackle from behind during a May 6 game in the western Tokyo suburb of Chofu.

The linebacker told a press conference on May 22 that Uchida and Inoue instructed him to carry out the tackle. The MPD has interviewed the victim as well as other players on the Nihon University club.

Under the Penal Code, inflicting injuries during a sporting event is not considered criminal as far as the rules are followed. However, criminal prosecution on suspicion of causing bodily injury becomes possible when the action in question is an egregious violation of the rules or is carried out with intent to harm. The MPD is carefully investigating if Uchida and Inoue are criminally culpable.

(Japanese original by Shota Harumashi, Yoshitaka Yamamoto, and Hironori Tsuchie, City News Department)

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