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Chilean football star Arturo Vidal was stripped of his driver's license Wednesday after being arrested for crashing his Ferrari while driving drunk, but the national team decided not to suspend him from the Copa America.
Vidal loses license, keeps Chile job after crash
06/17/2015
 
Arturo Vidal, Chilean National Team

Chilean football star Arturo Vidal was stripped of his driver's license Wednesday after being arrested for crashing his Ferrari while driving drunk, but the national team decided not to suspend him from the Copa America.


After spending the night in jail, the Juventus midfielder appeared in court in Santiago, where the judge freed him from custody but suspended his license and ordered him to report to the Chilean consulate in Milan every month under the terms of his release.


Vidal, who is home playing with Chile's national team in the South American championships, where he is currently the leading scorer, collided with another car late Tuesday as he and his wife, Maria Teresa Matus, drove home from a casino following a day off from training.


The couple were briefly taken to hospital after the accident on the outskirts of the Chilean capital, which left Vidal's red Ferrari badly mangled on the driver's side, its airbags deployed.


Vidal, 28, was then escorted from the hospital by police and carted off to jail in the back of a police car.

Officials have not disclosed how much alcohol he had in his blood.


After leaving court, where crowds of fans had gathered outside, Vidal rushed off to join the national team's practice session, which was already under way.


After a night of hand-wringing for Chilean fans, whose hopes of winning their first Copa America on home soil hang largely on Vidal, coach Jorge Sampaoli said he would not suspend the star from the team.


"Arturo's accident worried all of us. The first thing we're worried about is his health and that of his family. The second is the measure we're going to take with the coaching staff this afternoon," said the coach.


"He's just arrived and we're going to see how he is and try to make him understand that he maybe made a mistake, which for us is not so decisive that we need to suspend him."


He said Vidal has always shown "very good behavior" under his watch, despite his previous brushes with controversy.


"This accident of Arturo's is not going to affect Chile because he's a player who is with the team, beyond any mistake," he added.


Vidal does not face jail time because only he and his wife were hurt in the accident. He suffered "minor injuries" and his wife "moderately serious injuries," police Colonel Ricardo Gonzalez told reporters.


Under Chile's zero tolerance law on drunk driving, Vidal could have his license suspended for up to two years.

After the accident, he posted a video message on YouTube to proclaim his innocence.


"Today, I had a car accident. It was not my fault. I'm fine, my family's fine. Thank you for everything," he said, giving a thumbs up.


The combative player is no stranger to controversy.


In 2011, he was among five players excluded from Chile's squad preparing for World Cup qualifiers after they turned up for training late and drunk.


He was welcomed back to the fold after apologizing.


This season, Juventus imposed a club record $112,000 fine after Vidal was allegedly involved in a drunken brawl outside a Turin nightclub.


He is known as "King Arturo" to adoring fans at home and "The Warrior" at Juventus because of his tough style of play.


He is currently the top scorer in the Copa America, which kicked off Thursday and wraps up with the final match on July 4.


Vidal has found the back of the net three times in two games.


He hit a penalty in Chile's opening victory against Ecuador and two more goals in Monday's 3-3 draw with Mexico in Santiago -- just 24 hours before his accident.


Chile are top of Group A and meet Bolivia in their final first-round match on Friday.

Source: Guillermo Barros AFP
 
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