TOKYO (AP) A college football player in Japan has apologized for intentionally injuring the quarterback of an opposing team with a late tackle , an incident that has riveted the country for several weeks.
In a news conference shown live on television across the country on Tuesday, Taisuke Miyagawa bowed deeply and said his coach had told him to do it. But he said he should have been stronger and refused the order.
The coach, Masato Uchida, quit in the wake of the May 6 game.
”I deeply regret that I caused tremendous damage and inconvenience. I’m really sorry,” Miyagawa said.
He then bowed to a 90-degree angle and held it for several seconds – a sign of deep remorse in Japan.
American football is little played in the country, and the violent tackle with intent to injure – against the rules wherever the game is played – has shocked many in a country famous for baseball, sumo, and good manners.
Miyagawa played for Nihon University, and the incident took place against Kwansei Gakuin University – archrivals in Japan’s small college football circle.
”Even though it was an order, it was me who did it and I cannot change what I have done,” Miyagawa said.
Japan media report that Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kosei Okuno injured a knee and damaged ligaments near his spine. He is reported to need several more weeks to recover.
Miyagawa said he had been scolded by his coach for not performing well in recent games and practice. When the coach told him to ”crush the opposing quarterback” on the first play, he took it literally.
He said he didn’t consider rejecting the order, though he knew it was not the right thing.
The late hit came several seconds after the played ended, adding to the shock of fans and players who saw the quarterback hit from behind long after he released a pass.
”I have no intention of continuing to play American football in the future,” Miyagawa said. ”I don’t even know what I should do from now on.”
Miyagawa said he called the news conference to ”tell the truth” and clear the air.
However, one of his lawyers intervened after one question and said his client could not respond since he might face a criminal investigation.