Uruguay striker Luis Suarez has finally apologized for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match, and vowed there would never be a repeat of the incident.
After initially denying that he bit Chiellini, Suarez issued a carefully worded statement on Monday admitting his offence.
"The truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me," Suarez said in a statement published on his Twitter account.
His admission came days after he was expelled from the World Cup and banned for Uruguay's next nine competitive international matches and from any involvement in football for four months by FIFA.
Suarez had steadfastly denied biting Chiellini and wrote a letter to world soccer's governing body saying he had simply lost his balance and fallen on the Italian.
But FIFA ruled that he acted intentionally and promptly handed him the longest ban ever imposed on a player at the World Cup, prompting fury in his South American homeland, where he was given a hero's welcome on his return.
FIFA later explained that Suarez was given a heavy punishment partly because he had twice before been banned for biting but also because he had shown no remorse.
"After several days of being home with my family, I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect on what occurred during the Italy-Uruguay match on 24 June," Suarez said in his statement.
"For this: I deeply regret what happened; I apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family; I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like (that)."
ALGERIA FINED OVER LASERS
The Algerian Football Association has been fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($56,400) by FIFA after its fans shone lasers at players during the World Cup Group H game against Russia.
Television images showed a green light, typical of the kind generated by laser pens, being shown in the direction of Russia's goalkeeper before Algeria's equalizer in the 1-1 draw on Thursday.
FIFA's fine also included punishment for the use of flares and smoke bombs by Algerian fans during the game.
"The Algerian Football Association has been held liable for the improper conduct among its own group of spectators after incidents of crowd disturbance during the FIFA World Cup match between Russia and Algeria on 26 June 2014," a FIFA spokesperson said on Monday.
"The incidents in question included the use of lasers, Bengal light and smoke bombs. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee imposed a fine of CHF 50,000 and pronounced a reprimand against the Algerian FA," the spokesperson added.
Algeria play Germany later on Monday in the last 16.
ROBBEN’S DIVE COMMENTS MISINTERPRETTED
Netherlands winger Arjen Robben has said the controversial penalty he won in stoppage time against Mexico to secure victory in Sunday's last-16 clash was legitimate but admitted he dived earlier in the game.
The Dutch FA (KNVB) issued a statement on Monday seeking to clarify the media interpretation of Robben's quotes on Dutch television after the match when he discussed the late penalty call that saw the Netherlands win 2-1 at the Castelao arena.
Several media reports had erroneously reported that Robben admitted diving for the penalty that led to the victory.
"In reality Robben apologized for trying to win a penalty in the first half when he went down too early," said the statement, reported by NOS television.
"That was a stupid action," said Robben. "I want to say sorry. It was really dumb."
In the news release, Robben is quoted as saying the decision to award a penalty at the end of the game, when he went down under a challenge from Mexico captain Rafael Marquez, was correct.
In the television interview, Robben also claimed he should have been given two other penalties before halftime.
"He tackled me on the shin and then had to go off himself with injury," Robben said of Hector Moreno, who suffered a suspected broken leg in the incident.
"I was tackled again and if that wasn't a penalty, then I don't know what is," Robben told NOS.
SPORTS MINISTER DEFENDS CAPELLO
Russia's Minister for Sport Vitaly Mutko has defended national team coach Fabio Capello in the wake of criticism from fans and local media following their first-round World Cup exit.
"Capello helped us to reach the World Cup finals. It certainly would not have been a given that we would have reached Brazil with someone else," Mutko said on Monday in a briefing with Russian journalists.
"I can tell you that Fabio is not here just for the money. He sincerely wants to help Russia to develop a good side. Capello works a lot, travels and searches for talent.
"Some of our domestic coaches don't even know our players, but he calls them up to the national team. We need to talk to Fabio and the federation needs to do its own job," he added.
Russia returned home to Moscow on Sunday after failing to qualify from Group H, having picked up two points from three games and scored two goals. Russian fans and media are unhappy with Capello's defensive tactics and want the Italian replaced.
SWISS COACH NOT GOING AWAY
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is confident that Tuesday's round of 16 match against Argentina will not be his last in charge of the national team.
Since the 65-year-old German has already announced he will step down at the end of this World Cup, that can only mean one thing.
"I'm certainly looking forward to this huge sporting challenge, and of course with the Swiss national team we have thought together about how to go on, and (those thoughts) have included the quarter-finals," he told reporters on Monday at Corinthians arena, where the game will be played.
"So I don't think it's going to be my last match," he added.
Switzerland has not been into the last eight of a World Cup since 1954, when they were playing on home soil.
To do so 60 years on, they will have to beat one of the favourites for the tournament, including Lionel Messi who has been in blistering form for his team.