Controversy Surrounds Former Urawa Reds Manager Boss Otsuki Over Allegations of Verbal Abuse and Power Harassment at The Spakusatsu Gunma | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Controversy Surrounds Former Urawa Reds Manager Boss Otsuki Over Allegations of Verbal Abuse and Power Harassment at The Spakusatsu Gunma

Former Zaspa team staff members, who were forced to resign from their jobs, angrily accuse the company of harassment.

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Mr. Otsuki agrees to a direct interview with FRIDAY. He glares at the reporter, revealing his anger, but remains silent on the allegations of harassment.

“He had a good public image, so he was highly regarded by supporters and sponsors as a director. However, he was harsh with the team staff, constantly complaining. I became fed up with being subjected to verbal abuse every day and decided to quit the team.”

“A” is a team staff member of “Thespakusatsu Gunma,” belonging to the J2 soccer league, who shares this sentiment. His frustration is directed towards Tsuyoshi Otsuki (51), who currently serves as the team’s coach.


“Otsuki, who has served as a coach for multiple J-League clubs, joined the ‘Urawa Reds’ strengthening headquarters in 2004 and led the team as coach from 2019. In the same year, during a match against Kashima, he received a red card for pushing down an opposing player during the game. He assumed the position of coach for Thespakusatsu starting from the 2022 season.”

 Despite being well-trusted by supporters, Otsuki has allegedly exhibited behaviors towards staff that could be considered harassment.

“I worked as a manager for Thespakusatsu for two years starting from 2022. During that time, Otsuki would hurl verbal abuse at me almost daily, saying things like, ‘How dare you speak to me on equal terms in your first year.’ He even said, ‘Staff are under slave contracts.’ In reality, during my first year, I worked from 6:30 in the morning until around 9:00 at night. Hearing the term ‘slave contract’ in such circumstances was chilling.” (A-san)

Further events occur that trample on A’s feelings.

“Last summer, the assembly time for a practice match was changed the day before, and I notified the team collectively. However, the next day, one of Otsuki’s favorite players arrived late. I had informed that player about the change in assembly time, but for some reason, Otsuki blamed me for the lateness in front of everyone, saying, ‘It’s A’s fault.’ Otsuki also uttered abusive words to the players, saying, ‘There are no useful pawns,’ and ‘I don’t care about the practice of bench players.’ Many players dislike Otsuki, but since he produces results as a coach, the team has become somewhat like Otsuki’s one-man show. There was an atmosphere where nobody could say anything against him.”

Eventually reaching his limit, A decided to quit the team after the 2023 season, resolving to leave if the Otsuki regime continued into the following year.

Evidence of power harassment

FRIDAY has obtained a video that supports the allegations of power harassment against Mr. Otsuki this time. The video is footage taken by staff for recording purposes during Thespakusatsu practice. In the video, Mr. Otsuki is seen aggressively saying to the staff member filming, “Die, you idiot!” and “Be grateful that you’re only getting to use your mouth.”

What will the famous coach say about the emerging allegations of power harassment? In mid-February, FRIDAY approached Mr. Otsuki directly.

This is FRIDAY. We’d like to hear your thoughts.

“Ah. Can you talk through the club?”

There are staff members who claim to have been subjected to harassment by Mr. Otsuki, and we have audio recordings and videos to confirm that.

“Would it be possible to communicate through the club? I have nothing specific to say right now.”

Mr. Otsuki didn’t speak about it himself. Regarding the abusive language he directed at the staff and blaming them for player lateness, when we sent a letter of inquiry to the club for fact verification, we received the following response.

“The club has reviewed the footage of the training session stored, and while the specific remarks were confirmed, upon examining the context before and after, it was not deemed to be high-handed. Additionally, when we confirmed with the staff member in question, we received a response stating, ‘I do not consider it harassment.'”

The club conducted interviews with all current staff members who were also present last season regarding the statement about the slave contract, and no such remarks were confirmed. Similarly, regarding the incident where player lateness was attributed to Mr. A, we also conducted interviews, but no statements suggesting reprimand were confirmed.

While the club denies harassment, it is a fact that there are staff members who left the team due to difficulties with Mr. Otsuki’s actions. High moral standards are expected of leaders in the Reiwa era.

Since his time with Urawa Reds, Otsuki has sported an all-back hairstyle. He garnered attention for his fierce gaze on the pitch while admonishing and encouraging players.
Mr. A, who responded to FRIDAY’s interview, expressed that it was Otsuki’s words and actions that caused him to become disillusioned not only with Otsuki himself but also with the soccer world as a whole.

From the March 15, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Toshikatsu Tanaka Afro

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