Former coaches of Nihon University's American football team, accused of instructing a player to commit a dangerous tackle on an opponent, are unlikely to be charged with assault, along with the player who said he was ordered to do it, investigative sources said Tuesday.

In documents sent to prosecutors the same day, Tokyo police said they could not find evidence that former head coach Masato Uchida, 63, and former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue, 30, issued instructions with a clear intent to inflict injuries on the opponent.

(Former Nihon University American football head coach Masato Uchida, right, and assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue at a press conference in Tokyo on May 23, 2018.)

The injured Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback, Kosei Okuno, filed a criminal complaint against the former coaches following the foul play last May that stirred controversy nationwide.

During the investigation, the police questioned the former coaches and interviewed about 200 players and others involved but apparently could not find clear evidence that illegal orders were given to Nihon University player Taisuke Miyagawa, 20, who carried out the tackle.

They also decided that a remark such as "crush the quarterback," which Inoue admitted to having made to Miyagawa, can be used in general to mean "tackle strongly" and does not necessarily amount to an instruction to injure an opponent, according to the sources.

Analysis of video footage of the match indicated Uchida may have not had his eyes on the foul play when it happened and was instead looking in the direction of the ball at some distance.

Other footage showed Uchida apparently asking Inoue what happened.

Miyagawa, meanwhile, was referred to the prosecutors on Tuesday on the charge of assault. But he is not expected to be indicted, having already reached an out-of-court settlement with the injured player.

The foul play took place during an intercollegiate game on May 6. Miyagawa tackled Okuno from behind after the Kwansei quarterback had already finished throwing the ball.

Miyagawa has said at a press conference he had followed the instructions of Uchida and Inoue to "inflict injuries." But the former coaches have denied demanding Miyagawa deliberately play foul.

A Nihon University investigation panel has separately decided that Miyagawa's statement was credible and that the dangerous tackle was committed under the instructions of the former coaches.

The panel based its conclusion on a conversation it deemed to have been exchanged between the two coaches, in which Uchida allegedly said "yes" in response to Inoue's alleged remark of "he did it" after Miyagawa's tackle.

The police, however, believe such a conversation did not take place, pointing to the fact that Uchida's transceiver was not functioning at the time and Inoue was not near him.

Yasutoshi Okuno, the father of the injured quarterback, posted a comment on his Facebook account that even if the two former coaches are not indicted, it would not necessarily mean the panel's conclusion was wrong. "I'm going to wait and see where the investigation by the prosecutors will lead," the comment read.

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