Meet Tas Okawa! He is the Chief Editor of the Japanese edition of the DAZN News website. He creates content and makes sure that the site is performing well from a search perspective.
His background is in publishing. He has also played a key role in growing the DAZN social accounts for Japan. His written work is pre-dominantly football focused and shines a light on which players or teams we should look out for. His team have also created a transfer rumours page for each major league where they analyse each club’s transfer strategy.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Kobe but I don’t have a sense of belonging to any particular place as we moved around a lot as a family when I was growing up. I have moved about 20 times in my life! My family moved to Europe. Initially to Switzerland. I then moved to England in the early 90s and spent my teenage years there.
What are you interested in away from work?
Outside of work my main interest is football. Football is everything to me to be honest. I grew up watching the Premier League - especially when I was living in England. I also watched a lot of Serie A - this was when Hidetoshi Nakata was playing a lot for Perugia. He was my idol at the time.
As a kid I was also motivated by the success of the Japanese national team - we made it to the World Cup for the first time in 1998 after a lot of people had written us off. That was a key moment for me falling in love with the game – it was amazing to us on that stage.
You have a strange connection with Atletico Madrid – can you tell us about that?
I was an early adopter of Twitter - I managed to secure the handle @tas. About 10 years later I noticed a lot of Spanish-speaking tweets in my mentions. Most of them were from Atletico fans. After a bit of research it turned out that these fans were targeting the Court of Arbitration for Sport who are also known as Tribunal Arbitral du Sport, or ‘TAS’ for short…!
The bigger picture was that Atletico had been banned from signing players. The club appealed but TAS upheld the punishment. Their fans were upset and targeted me by mistake. I asked my Spanish friends to translate a message from me - I wanted to tell the fans that they had got the wrong guy! That tweet went viral in Spain - it was re-tweeted more than 10,000 times.
The story was picked up by a lot of Spanish media outlets. After that I got about 7,000 new followers who were all Atletico fans. They started a campaign to get an Atletico shirt sent to Tas. Then Marca (leading Spanish sports newspaper) got in touch and invited me to Madrid! They had a campaign page to raise awareness of this! I visited the stadium because of the campaign. All the Atletico fans were stopping me for selfies. It was surreal!!
Fernando Torres – what happened there?!
Then when I returned to Japan, Fernando Torres (Atletico legend) moved to the J-League to play for Sagan Tosu. He also became a DAZN ambassador and I got the chance to work with him. It turned out that he knew about me already!! When I first met him, and before I even spoke to him, he pointed at me and said "are you Tas?!".
When Torres retired last summer, I went to the stadium to say goodbye. I went up to him and tried to shake his hand but he stopped me and gave me a massive hug instead! He said to me that all Atletico fans are like family to him. It was a very special moment for me.
Going viral in South America – how did that come about?!
I actually went viral in Peru as well. It was another case of mistaken identity!
In the build up ahead of the 2018 World Cup, Paolo Guerrero (star striker and national hero in Peru) was handed a long-term suspension after failing a doping test. At the time, it looked like he was going to miss the World Cup. He was such a key player and the whole of Peru was up in arms about the situation. The Peruvian national team contacted TAS and appealed the decision (the ban ended up being lifted).
The same thing happened again - lots of Spanish-speaking tweets appeared in my mentions. Suddenly I had 10,000 new followers in Peru and I had become headline news again - this time in South America!