Lee Kang-in flies to London, apologizes to Son Heung-min in person

By Hoang Nguyen   February 20, 2024 | 08:29 pm PT
Lee Kang-in has met and apologized to captain Son Heung-min in person as the two made peace after their fight in the South Korea national football team at Asian Cup this year.

Both Son and Lee posted on Instagram on Wednesday morning, after Lee flew from Paris, France to London, England to meet Son. Lee thanked the South Korea team captain for welcoming him.

"I think it's important to meet Son Heung-min in person and give him my sincere apology," Lee wrote. "I understood his pressure as a team captain and took the time to reflect on myself."

Lee mentioned the altercation with Son on Feb. 5, one day before South Korea's 0-2 defeat against Jordan in the Asian Cup semifinal. During dinner, a few young players, including Lee, were playing ping-pong and making loud, disruptive noise. They didn't listen when Son told them to stop. A brawl between Son and Lee broke out, resulting in Son's dislocated finger.

When the story was exposed on Feb. 14, the media and fans called it the biggest scandal in history of South Korea national football team.

Son Heung-min (L) and Lee Kang-in meet in London, England for the first time after the Asian Cup. Photo by Instagram/@hm_son7

Son Heung-min (L) and Lee Kang-in meet in London, England for the first time after the 2023 Asian Cup. Photo by Instagram/@hm_son7

"I did something that I should have never done in the dining room that day. I didn't listen to him, a captain, a brother and a teammate who was trying to unite the team. Respect and dedication to the team is the most important thing but I lacked a lot of it," Lee added.

Lee, 23, also contacted every single player in the national team to apologize for the incident and promised to be more mature and respectful in the future.

"From now on, I will be the Lee Kang-in who works harder and dedicates himself to being a better footballer and a better person," he wrote.

Son confirmed that Lee has sent a sincere apology to all players in the national team.

"Lee is having a tough time after the incident," Son wrote. "Please forgive him with an open heart for once."

The 31-year-old forward also took responsibility for letting this incident happen. However, he believed that as the captain, he must do what's best for the team, even when he doesn't like it.

"From now on, I will try to understand my teammates better. Once again, as the captain of the South Korea national team, I sincerely apologize," he wrote.

After the incident, Lee was the center of backlash when fans boycotted him and many brands terminated advertising contracts with him, as his actions tainted the image of the national football team. The brawl also led to the sacking of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, whose contract is still valid until 2026.

Korean Football Association chairman Chung Mong-gyu said the highest punishment for Son and Lee might be not calling them up to the national team for a certain period.

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