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Japan’s Kobayashi apologises for saying referee threatened to kill him

Tokyo (AFP) – Japan midfielder Yuki Kobayashi has apologised to Qatar officials for a “misunderstanding”, after he accused a referee of threatening to kill him.

Kobayashi, who plays for Qatar Stars League side Al-Khor, said after his team’s 3-1 defeat to Al-Gharafa on Monday that the referee had told him “I’m gonna kill you” when he appealed for a corner late in the game.

But the player retracted the accusation on Thursday, saying he had met with officials and realised the referee in fact said “I tell you”.

“I listen to the discussion between me and him, there is misunderstanding about his word i kill you like I hear but the sound is i tell you,” he tweeted.

Kobayashi, who has eight caps for Japan, had claimed in a now-deleted tweet that the referee had waved away his complaints that the ball had touched an opposition player last, saying a “small touch is no touch. This is new rule”.

The midfielder said the referee then laughed at him, before saying “ok you’re my opponent, I’m gonna kill you”.

Japan star Keisuke Honda had offered his former international teammate support on Twitter, replying with: “Yuki, I’m proud of you to said it bravely. It’s unbelievable what the referee said to you.”

But on Thursday Kobayashi apologised to the referee “for all the tweets and the situation”.

“I love Qatar too much and i like to live and play here, really i didn’t face any problems here all people respect me,” he added.

The 28-year-old joined Al-Khor from Belgian outfit Waasland-Beveren last September, after spending three seasons with Dutch side Heerenveen.

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