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Son Heung-min injured after Asian Cup tussle with Lee Kang-in
2024-02-17
Son Heung-min injured his finger in a tussle with Lee Kang-in ahead of Korea’s loss to Jordan in the semifinals of the Asian Cup last week, according to local media reports Wednesday.
 
The JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, said Wednesday that Tottenham Hotspur captain Son grabbed Paris Saint-Germain’s Lee by the collar after a disagreement during team dinner, with Lee reportedly then taking a swing at Son.
 
It was while other players were breaking the pair up that Son’s finger was dislocated.
 
The JoongAng Ilbo report follows an earlier confirmation from the KFA that Son’s finger was injured during an altercation with a teammate the night before Korea’s semifinal loss to Jordan. The story was originally broken by Britain’s The Sun a day earlier.

According to The Sun, Son dislocated his finger in a “bust-up” after a row erupted at dinner the night before the game.
 
The incident reportedly happened after some younger members of the team — according to the JoongAng Ilbo, Lee Kang-in, Seol Young-woo and Jeong Woo-yeong — rushed their dinner to go and play table tennis.  
 
The JoongAng Ilbo report — which did not cite the source for the additional information — says that the three then started to loudly play table tennis, eschewing the traditional pre-match team dinner.
 
Son eventually confronted the younger players and the tussle followed. Yonhap News Agency also reported that some senior players of the squad, possibly including Son, then asked head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who had been at the meal, to exclude Lee from the Jordan starting lineup. That clearly did not happen, as Lee did start the following day.
 
Lee addressed the incident in an Instagram story Wednesday.
 
"It was reported that I had an altercation with Son ahead of the Asian Cup semifinal," Lee wrote. "I have caused great disappointment to all those football fans who support the national team. I am so sorry. I should have listened to the older players and I apologize for not showing a good attitude.
 
"I apologize to the many people who are disappointed in me. I am well aware of how invested fans are in me as a player. From now on, I will try to support the senior players and become a better player and person."
 
Korea lost 2-0 to Jordan in the Asian Cup semifinal, failing to land a single shot on target despite being one of the highest-ranked teams in the competition.
 
The KFA has since faced a barrage of criticism aimed at the organization and at manager Klinsmann. The National Team Committee is set to meet Thursday to discuss the manager’s status, with growing calls from some fans for the departure of both Klinsmann and KFA Chairman Chung Mong-gyu.
 
The KFA weighing in on The Sun report is also facing backlash from fans, who believe that the organization moved unusually quickly to confirm the report in an effort to shift the focus away from Klinsmann and Chung.
 
Son has already returned to London to rejoin Tottenham Hotspur, where he is also the captain. He made his return to the team against Brighton on Saturday, coming on as a substitute and assisting the winning goal.
 
Talking to The Standard over the weekend, Son described his return to Spurs as helping to “heal the pain” of the Asian Cup, adding that it was “not nice to talk about the tournament.”
 
“It is not nice talking about the tournament again,” Son said. “It is really tough to take, but it is part of football. It really hurts, but to heal is playing football again to make me smile again — like Saturday.”
 
Son’s hand was still bandaged during Saturday’s game.
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