Saki Kumagai, a member of Japan's Women's World Cup-winning soccer team, is in hot water after disparaging remarks she made about the team coach while partying with university students on Wednesday night were posted on Twitter by one of the students.
The issue blew up on Thursday, with the Twitter message going viral. By Friday, Japan's mainstream and tabloid media were reporting Kumagai's remarks and the fallout. Coach Norio Sasaki held a televised press conference in which he apologized for anything he said or did that might have led to Kumagai's remarks. "I offer my humble apologies to all the fans who have supported 'Nadeshiko' Japan," as the women's team is known.
In the Twitter message, Kumagai, 20, reportedly criticized Sasaki for sticking too much to hierarchy within the team. Tabloid media reported that she also posted some lewd photos of a teammate taken on her cell phone.
Kumagai has already apologized on her own Twitter page, for "causing trouble to the coach, the teammates, the people concerned and every one who is supporting us."
"It is not true that I criticized the coach. But, undoubtedly, I was so inarticulate that my words were misunderstood," said the Urawa Reds Ladies defender, who is now bound for the women's Bundesliga side Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, Fuji TV reported Friday that that she has withdrawn from all scheduled public appearances with the rest of the team for the time being.
A spokesman for the Japan Football Association called the incident regrettable and asked the media not to make a big deal about it, according to the TV network.
Kumagai fired home the winning penalty in the shootout against the United States in Sunday's final in Frankfurt. The team returned to Japan on Tuesday. Each member of the team received a 1 million yen bonus from sponsor Kirin.© Japan Today