By Ken Ferris
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea have fined goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga one week’s wages following his refusal to be substituted in the League Cup final defeat by Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
Arrizabalaga appeared to be injured as he prevented City’s Sergio Aguero from scoring in the closing moments of extra time, and manager Maurizio Sarri ordered his substitution before Chelsea went on to lose the showpiece match 4-3 on penalties.
But with the change already displayed to the stadium by the fourth official, and Chelsea’s reserve keeper Willy Caballero ready to come on, Kepa insisted he was fit to carry on and face the penalty shootout — to the visible anger of Sarri.
The Italian coach said after the match, which finished 0-0, that there had been a “big misunderstanding” because he thought Arrizabalaga had cramp.
On Monday Arrizabalaga said he had apologised to Sarri, his team mates and the fans, while Chelsea fined him for his actions.
“The club has made a decision to fine Kepa one week’s wages and donate it to the Chelsea Foundation,” the west London club said in a statement on their official website.
Kepa and Sarri also issued statements to clarify their positions following a controversy which captured the headlines around the world.
“I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation,” Kepa said.
“I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans.
“I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”
Sarri said after the match he would discuss the matter with Arrizabalaga, who became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea for 80 million euros (69 million pounds) last year.
“Kepa and I have spoken about the incident,” Sarri said in his statement on Monday. “It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted.
“He has apologised to me, his team mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed.
“The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive Cup final.
“Everyone’s focus is now on the next game and we must all now put this behind us.”
Chelsea next face London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.
(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)