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An investigation has been started after a Georgia youth football coach was seen on video striking one of his players twice during a timeout, police said Thursday.
The incident occurred on the Savannah Gators 7U team, from Georgia, at the American Youth Football Championships, which were being held in Kissimmee, Fla. The video surfaced Tuesday on Facebook and began to make the rounds on social media.
The video showed the unnamed coach on the sideline hitting the player in the helmet twice, with the last strike knocking the player into the ground. After a social media outcry, the Savannah Police Department released a statement on the incident.
“Over the past two days we have received numerous messages on social media regarding the actions of a Savannah-area youth football coach that was caught on video and has been shared widely on social media,” the police wrote on Facebook.
“We thank you all for passing along this information for our detectives to look into. We want to assure everyone that we did immediately look into this and quickly learned that this incident occurred while the team was out of town. After contacting the police department in the city the team was at when the incident occurred, we learned that their detectives had already begun investigating the coach's actions. Once again, we thank you all for contacting SPD and ask you to continue to contact the department anytime you see anything in this city that needs officer attention.”
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In the wake of the incident, the team’s Facebook page reportedly posted an apology, but the entire account has since been deleted.
“Please keep the negative comments off this page please this organization has great coaches we understand what we all saw yesterday was disturbing to us all but let’s not blame everyone for one mans actions,” the apology reportedly read. “The organization is not at Nationals we have only 2 age groups a National 7U & 9U with only those coaches of those age groups witch [sic] the guy in the video is our 9U head coach he is a good guy that just took it a little to [sic] far on a 9U player we understand and we are aware of what’s going on and will like to apologize to the #BigPeachConference…”
The coach allegedly involved in the incident is said to have issued an apology in a Facebook Live video posted on a woman’s account.
“I’m gonna apologize for my actions … At the end of the day, I am a man. I aint gonna make no excuses for what I did. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have disciplined him … hit him in public. I shoulda waited ‘til we got back. At the end of the day, I apologize to him, the kids, the city … and my family back at home. I do apologize. There’s no excuse for my actions. He forgave me and his parents have forgiven me, so nobody else should be bashing me,” the coach, whose name remains unknown, said.
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The video drew sharp rebuke on social media, including LeBron James who wrote on his Instagram Stories "Ain't no way!! Couldn't be my kid. Hell if i there [sic] and it's not even my kid we gone have more than words for sure."
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American Youth Football did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
American Youth Football executive vide president Adam Laufer told TMZ Sports: "We are of course beyond disappointed in the coach's actions, which are wholly inconsistent with the fundamental value of youth sports. The coach has been banned indefinitely from all future AYF events and activities."
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