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Japanese college football scandalized after coach orders shocking late hit

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Japanese college football isn’t nearly the cultural phenomenon it is in the United States, with the sport far behind baseball and sumo wrestling on the athletic landscape. Nevertheless, a player’s egregious late hit during a game, and his public apology on Tuesday, has become front-page news.

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During a May 6 game, Nihon University defensive lineman Taisuke Miyagawa launched himself into the back of Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback Kosei Okuno well after he had thrown a pass, resulting in knee and spinal-ligament injuries that will sideline the quarterback for three weeks, Agence France-Presse reported.

As you can see, it was the cheapest of shots. According to Kyodo News, Okuno has filed an official complaint with police in Osaka Prefecture.

Miyagawa apologized during a news conference Tuesday that was televised live across Japan, bowing to a 90-degree angle and holding it for several seconds, a sign of deep remorse, according to the Associated Press. He added that he made the tackle to curry favor with Coach Masato Uchida and assistant Tsutomu Inoue, who had kept him out of practice because he did not show “drive and fighting morale.”

“After the practice [on May 5], Coach Inoue said to me, ‘I asked head coach what you would need to do to play in the game, he said if you squash the quarterback on the first play, we would let you play. So go tell him, ‘I’ll squash the quarterback, so use me,’ ” Miyagawa said, per the Japan Times.

“I thought it was an implication that I needed to do it with a strong mind-set, as if I would smash [the quarterback], but I really did need to do it,” Miyagawa added. “So I felt like I had no choice and was in anguish.”

Miyagawa was ejected from the game after committing two more personal fouls, retreating in tears to a tent near the field where he said Inoue berated him, calling the player soft. On Tuesday, Miyagawa said he has quit the sport.

“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.”

Uchida resigned in the wake of the incident on Saturday.

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