Soccer

Football star’s teary coronavirus apology

Wellington player Tim Payne has issued a tearful apology for a joy-riding incident during the team’s A-League quarantine period in Sydney which has resulted in a drink-driving charge.

Football Federation Australia and Phoenix management are investigating the alcohol-related incident in which Payne drove a golf buggy beyond the team’s remote Sydney facility, where they were undergoing 14 days of self-isolation.

Teammate Oliver Sail was a passenger.

All Whites international defender Payne admitted they broke the team’s strict conditions when they left the facility — reported to be the Sydney Academy of Sport on Sydney’s Northern Beaches — in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He was stopped by police and, following a positive breath-test result, was charged with a mid-range PCA offence and ordered to appear in a Sydney court in June.

Payne refuted a media report that said he’d been arrested and members of the public had been involved in any way.

Tim Payne had some explaining to do.Source:Getty Images

An emotional Payne told Radio Sport he had apologised to the club and teammates for his actions and was remorseful.

“I just want to say that I’m incredibly sorry and incredibly embarrassed, what I’ve done,” Payne said.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and for what unfolded on that night. I’ve let so many people down, including my partner, my family, the club as a whole, individuals such as Uffie (coach Ufuk Talay), who has given me the chance this season.”

He has spoken to club management and expected to face internal sanctions.

“I did something I’m not proud of and I 100 per cent expect there to be repercussions for those actions.

“It’s one of those things you wish you could take back but I’m fully ready to stand up and face them head on.”

FFA said in a statement the matter is being taken very seriously and if any misconduct is found to have occurred, it will take action under the code’s national code of conduct.

The team returned home on Tuesday afternoon, hours after the A-League’s suspension had been announced.

Tim Payne had to rush home to Sydney.Source:Getty Images

Phoenix general manager David Dome says that the players and staff had made the call to return home on Monday afternoon, after the New Zealand government announced the country would undergo a border lockdown this week.

Wellington said it will release a further statement once its own investigation was completed.

Payne, 26, has played 17 internationals for the All Whites and in January extended his Phoenix contract for a further two years.

The former Blackburn Rovers trialist has impressed at right back this season for the third-placed Phoenix in place of the injured Louis Fenton.

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