SANTIAGO (REUTERS) - All is forgiven, or at least that is the message fans overwhelmingly expressed to Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal at Chile's final Copa America Group A match against Bolivia on Friday, three days after he was arrested and charged for a drunk-driving car accident.
Fans jumped out of their seats and cheered wildly for Vidal as the Santiago native made his way onto the football field at a packed National Stadium.
Choking back tears, Vidal made a public apology on Wednesday for crashing his Ferrari while under the influence, expressed his gratitude for being allowed to stay on in the hosts' squad, and said he would pay back the second chance he had been given on the field.
After the accident and his subsequent arrest, it was uncertain whether Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli would keep Vidal on the active roster. Ultimately, the Argentinian gave the 28-year-old a pass.
"He has not committed any mistakes in terms of soccer, anybody can make a mistake. If he does what he is supposed to on the field, that's enough," said Chile fan Juan Pablo Tapia. "He made the mistake outside of soccer, and that's where he'll have to face the consequences."
Vidal, who has three goals in the tournament after scoring twice in Chile's 3-3 draw with Mexico on Monday, is the tournament's top scorer.
While he did not add to his tally, Chile crushed Bolivia 5-0 to top Group A on seven points, with the losers also through to the quarter-finals in second place on four points.