Choking back tears, midfielder Arturo Vidal made a public apology on Wednesday for crashing his Ferrari while driving drunk and expressed his gratitude for being allowed to stay on Chile's Copa America squad.
Vidal was charged with driving under the influence after crashing some 18 miles (30 km) south of Santiago on Tuesday night, with his wife in the passenger seat, following an afternoon off from training that he spent at a casino.
"I had two drinks and had an accident, as everyone knows, and put the life of my wife and other people at risk. And for that I'm really sorry," Vidal told reporters, his voice cracking.
"I'm really embarrassed and all I can do is ask for forgiveness ... and show on the field that this opportunity I've been given is worth something," said Vidal.
The accident put Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli in a tricky position, but he ultimately decided to keep Vidal on Chile's active roster.
"He made a mistake that isn't such a determining factor as to exclude him," Sampaoli told a news conference at Chile's training camp in Santiago. "What we need is to include him."
Vidal is expected to start Chile’s final Group A match against Bolivia on Friday.
His teammates also offered their support. Writing on Twitter, Inter Milan midfielder Gary Medel said: "I love you a lot and I'm with you now more than ever. We're a team and we'll come out of this together."
Night spent in custody
Hospital director Sergio Aguilera said three people were hurt in the accident including the player, who 'had a lightly bruised neck'.
After the crash, Vidal spent the night in police custody and a judge suspended his driver's license on Wednesday. The judge opened a 120-day investigation into the accident and will require Vidal to check in with the Chilean consulate in Milan, where he plays for Juventus, while the investigation is ongoing.
'Are you going to handcuff me?'
Chilean state television showed pictures of Vidal's badly damaged red Ferrari. It later showed Vidal, who has three goals in the tournament after scoring twice in Chile’s 3-3 draw with Mexico on Monday, leaving in a police patrol car from the hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and had his blood-alcohol level tested.
Local radio station BioBio on Wednesday released footage of the player interacting with police shortly after the crash.
"Stop talking stupid," Vidal said to the officers. "Are you going to handcuff me? Handcuff me, but you're screwing all of Chile."
Hosts Chile are top of Group A in the 12-team tournament with four points from two matches, ahead of Bolivia on goal difference. Mexico have two points and Ecuador none.