• Soccer

Japan’s Junya Ito to Start for Reims amid Sexual Assault Probe

REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
AFC Asian Cup – Group D – Japan v Indonesia – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar – January 24, 2024 Japan’s Junya Ito during the warm up before the match

Japanese international Junya Ito, accused of sexual assault by two women in Japan, will start Sunday’s Ligue 1 match for club side Reims at Lorient.

An investigation has been opened in Japan into the 30-year-old winger after Japanese media reported that two women accused him of sexual assault.

The alleged events took place in a hotel in Osaka, in June 2023, after a match between Japan and Peru, according to Japanese media.

Ito, who played in the Asian Cup in Qatar with Japan although he did not feature in their quarter-final defeat by Iran last Saturday, has denied any wrongdoing, describing the claims as “totally unfounded”.

He returned to France and resumed team training with his club on Tuesday.

Reims has expressed “support for its player … awaiting concrete elements which will shed light on the alleged facts and (the club) will follow with great attention the related legal progress”.

Ito has scored two goals in 17 matches for the team based in the Champagne region, and his absence was felt as they slipped to eighth in the Ligue 1 standings.

Lorient are in the relegation zone.