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Report: Japan's Junya Ito accused of sexual assault; leaves AFC Asian Cup 2023 camp

Published at :February 1, 2024 at 8:07 PM
Modified at :February 1, 2024 at 8:07 PM
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Atawaris Warsi


Junya Ito represented Japan in the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well.

Japan national team winger Junya Ito has left the AFC Asian Cup 2023 tournament and returned to his club, Stade de Reims, following accusations of sexual assault by two women. The 30-year-old, who represented Japan in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, finds himself embroiled in a criminal investigation after the victims filed a complaint against him.

The allegations surfaced when a report was published by Daily Shincho, a prominent news website affiliated with the publisher of the major weekly Shukan Shincho. According to the investigative sources, Ito is suspected of engaging in unwelcome sexual conduct with two intoxicated women at a hotel in Osaka in June of the previous year, shortly after playing for Japan against Peru.

The police launched an investigation in response to the criminal complaint filed by the women. Ito, who was recently in Doha with the Japanese national team, has refrained from commenting on the matter in detail, citing advice to limit discussions to matters related to the sport. The seriousness of the allegations has sent shockwaves through the football community, prompting swift action from the authorities.

The report came hours before Japan’s round-of-16 match at the Asian Cup against Bahrain in Doha. Ito’s lawyer said the allegations are ‘totally unfounded’. While Ito did spend time with the two women, the complaint states that their accounts are inconsistent, and there is no physical evidence supporting their allegation. 

Japan’s national team coach, Hajime Moriyasu, expressed his limited awareness of the situation, stating, “I’m not fully aware (of the allegation) yet. I’ll deal with it after examining it.” The abrupt exit of a key player in the midst of a major tournament has undoubtedly created a challenging situation for the team.

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