SANTIAGO - 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 in Chile's Copa America squad.
He was charged with driving under the influence after crashing some 30km 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."
The accident put Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli in a tricky position but he decided to keep the tournament's top scorer with three goals.
"He made a mistake that isn't such a determining factor as to exclude him," Sampaoli said.
Vidal, who has a lightly bruised neck from the crash, is expected to start in Chile's final Group A match against Bolivia today.
Local radio station BioBio on Wednesday released footage of the player interacting with police shortly after the accident which left two others hurt. The Juventus star is believed to have said: "You can handcuff me but you'll only be f***ing up the whole of Chile."
After the crash, Vidal spent the night in police custody and a judge suspended his driver's licence 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, while the probe is ongoing.