SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's star midfielder Arturo Vidal was banned from driving for four months by a Chilean judge on Wednesday after he crashed his Ferrari while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Despite the judge's ruling, Chile national team coach Jorge Sampaoli said Vidal can continue to play for the Chile, which is among the favorites in on-going Copa America, the South American championship.
"I don't like to remove or exclude someone for making a mistake," Sampaoli told a news conference.
He said he couldn't control what players did in "their rest time."
Vidal, known as "King Arthur" in Chile, appeared in court on Wednesday after being held overnight in a local jail. He suffered minor injuries in the crash, as did his wife, who was a passenger.
Later he offered a teary apology.
"I want say I'm sorry to my teammates, to the coaching staff, to the people — to the entire country," Vidal said. "I want to say I'm sorry, too, to the other people involved in an accident that was my fault."
The court said Vidal showed 1.21 grams of alcohol in his blood per liter. Any level above 0.8 can be punished by up to three year in prison.
Vidal scored twice on Monday in Chile's 3-3 draw with Mexico and is the leading scorer in the tournament with three goals.
A photo of the accident showed heavy damage to the left-front of the Ferrari, and the airbags apparently deployed.
The Juventus midfielder has had discipline problems in the past.
Former Chile national team coach Claudio Borghi banned Vidal and four other players for 20 games after they showed up at training in "an inappropriate state." The ban was eventually reduced to 10 games.
Argentine coach Sampaoli steered away from blaming Vidal and suggested there are times to be lenient.
"If I thought this would affect my authority, I wouldn't have done it," Sampaoli said.
"Something happened we couldn't hide," he added. "I hope this group understands I didn't act this way because it's Vidal. There are things you have to correct and not break."
Chile faces Bolivia on Friday in a Group A match in Copa America.
Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao