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'I was overwhelmed by emotion': Footballer threatened with sack denies PUNCHING referee in tunnel after seeing red for kicking out

'I was overwhelmed by emotion': Footballer threatened with sack denies PUNCHING referee in tunnel after seeing red for kicking out
Defender Yevgeny Khacheridi appears to have escaped the sack from Dinamo Brest after apologizing for lashing out at an opponent before launching an alleged violent attack on match referee Sergei Chistov alongside a club masseur.

The experienced Ukraine international cost his side the match at Vitebsk in the Belarusian Premier League when he petulantly backheeled winger Diego Santos’s leg to earn a red card and concede a late penalty that gifted the hosts the only goal of the game last Saturday.

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He has now been banned for five matches after the national football federation found him guilty of trying to hit referee Sergei Chistov in the dressing room after the game in an angry confrontation alongside massage therapist Sergey Lapitsky, who is said to have threatened to hurt the refereeing team in an expletive-laden tirade.

Unimpressed Brest seemed set to sack Khacheridi after details of the incident emerged, but the 32-year-old has now denied that he tried to fight the officials and apologized for his actions, saying he was “driven by emotions”.

“I’m very surprised to see the note in the match report that allegedly I tried to punch the referee after the game...in the stadium tunnel,” he insisted. “This never happened.

“Under the influence of emotions, I made a mistake and kicked my opponent off the ball. I don’t remember the moment well – I was overwhelmed by emotions.

“The refereeing of the game was a bit odd, to be honest. Of course, this provoked certain emotions, both for me and my teammates. I never intended to use physical force against [Chistov]. I just expressed my opinion on his work during the match. My character and sensitivity to unfairness drove me.”

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Khacheridi’s hero, David Beckham, was vilified in England when he was sent off for a similar flick of his heel against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.

The hot-tempered center-back admitted that he “liked to talk” with referees during a ten-year spell at Dynamo Kiev, adding that he was making efforts to “restrain” his impulses.

While playing for Greek side PAOK in 2018, Khacheridi was sent off after just seven minutes of a 4-0 Europa League defeat at Chelsea, rashly diving in to deny Olivier Giroud a clear run on goal at Stamford Bridge.

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“Football is my life,” he admitted in the wake of his latest transgression. “When I face injustice in regular life, I can control myself. However, on the pitch sometimes I’m driven by emotions.

“Lack of football also influenced me. At the same time, I accept my problem and keep working on myself. I promise this will never happen [again].”

Khacheridi called upon the Belarusian Football Federation to deal with the “refereeing problems” he had witnessed.

Brest manager Sergey Kovalchuk was clearly enraged after his side’s defeat. “There’s nothing to say,” he told the club website. “I cannot understand. Surely it should be consistent towards both sides. I don’t want to comment. If I do, I’ll be fined. Let me cool down.”

One Dynamo account described Khacheridi's behaviour as "disgusting", although a fan wrote: "The referee was a f*cking disgrace, to be fair."

Khacheridi was also fined $550, while Lapitsky has been banned for three matches and ordered to pay $330.

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