BREMERTON, Wash. —It was a sight that Kitsap Pumas fans will never forget. Olympic Soccer and Sports Center, January 2013 against the South Sound Shock: On the spectator side of the pitch, right at the clear plexiglass wall, Puma player Yuma Inagawa tumbled into the boards and came back up with a mouth full of blood and missing teeth scattered beneath him. Since then Inagawa has returned to his native Japan, and the Pumas have been waiting for help from the PASL. The Pumas and all clubs in the league pay fees per player to the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) in part for just this sort of accident. The league then acts via insurance to help the player and club with medical costs. Until just now the Pumas had not been getting any satisfaction.
PASL Commissioner Kevin Milliken is taking the blame for the slow response.
“I should have sent the forms to Kitsap about 30 days ago. He (Pumas owner Robin Waite) is correct (about the slow response from the PASL.) I was personally overwhelmed with the leagues expansion, and dropped the ball in getting the proper forms out. I did send them the forms over the weekend as my schedule demands are decreasing. We just need to file the claim by the second week of March if we choose to go that route.”
The gruesome injury was described this way on a Pumas fan blog:
“The game got off to a bad start for the Pumas when they conceded just three minutes in. They were well on their way to equalizing as they pressed the Shock’s goal when Yuma Inagawa was brutally fouled, his face smashed against the glass directly in front of the Kitsap Pumas most dedicated fan section. Inagawa was down and eventually taken off the field after recovering from the hard knock to his head and collecting the teeth that had been misplaced and were scattered across the turf. The player responsible for the injury was given a blue card and the Pumas equalized just fifteen seconds into the power play with a smashing goal from Cisco Cisneros.” -Soccer Boss.
“Whether it is the PASL or any other amateur sports organization’s personal accident policy, it is a secondary insurance policy,” says Milliken. “None of them carry a primary policy to my knowledge, because it would be about $200.00 per month per player.”
Milliken says the league insurance is not meant to stand alone against injury. “A secondary policy is only a supplement to a person’s primary policy, government assistance program, or if the person has no other form of insurance. It usually takes 45 – 90 days to process even if handled quickly. People are used to a direct billing/$10.00 co-pay etc. primary insurance policies. The secondary type of plan, is most commonly paid on a reimbursement basis, not on a direct billing basis.”
Return to Japan another wrinkle
Inagawa spent some time in a Bremerton hospital, and will likely need reconstructive surgery. However, he has since flown home to Japan.
“The other issue is the Kitsap player moved back to Japan within a week or two of his injury,” explains Milliken. “The league may actually have to pay for his injuries, per the insurance companies guidelines, which it will do because its commitment to the teams and players. There is a player on foreign soil exclusion, and I am not sure if it would be approved.
“The league may also choose to pay the claim of any players injuries, as it has done many times in the past, because of rising insurance costs. More claims, higher premiums. The insurance premiums have gone up two and a half times in the last few years, and the league has not passed this added cost onto the teams to date. We are really trying not to, because of the economy. Higher fees and we will lose teams.”
“We have similar issues in our Pro League (where the Tacoma Stars play.) We cannot have a National Policy, because of workers comp laws, so our teams try and get a sponsorship with a physician, to offset some medical costs, and then pay the balance of some injuries themselves.
“We had one team a couple years back, file all of their injuries under workers comp, and their premiums went from $10,000.00 to $70,000.00 in one year. That alone put the team out of business.”
goalWA.net has reached out to Inagawa in hopes of getting updated on his current health status. No response so far.
“I can assure you that all medical bills for players will be paid per our policy guidelines. Whether the league pays them itself, or decides to process the claim with the carrier,” Milliken states.