Wellington Phoenix midfielder Tim Payne yesterday tearfully apologized for breaking a COVID-19 quarantine in Australia when he drunkenly drove a golf cart on a Sydney street.
Payne and his passenger in the buggy, teammate Oliver Sail, face the prospect of a heavy fine or suspension over the escapade in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“I’m incredibly sorry and incredibly embarrassed,” Payne told New Zealand’s Radio Sport. “I take full responsibility for my actions and what unfolded on that night... I 100 percent fully expect there to be repercussions.”
The New Zealand-based Phoenix were in isolation in Sydney in the hope that they could play in the A-League if the Australian competition continued behind closed doors.
However, the plan proved fruitless, as the season was canceled and the team returned home on Tuesday.
New Zealand international Payne, 26, said that his teammates were drinking at their remote accommodations in northern Sydney on Monday night when he and Sail decided to take a golf cart for a ride.
The pair were stopped by police, he said, but he denied reports that they were arrested and members of the public intervened to stop them.
Local media reported that the golf cart was stopped about 5km from the players’ accommodations and Payne blew positive on a roadside breath alcohol test.
“Definitely a mistake on my behalf, it’s just one of those things you wish you could take back,” Payne said.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) said that it was investigating and taking the matter very seriously.
“If any misconduct is found to have occurred, FFA will be swift in taking action under the FFA national code of conduct,” it said.
Wellington Phoenix confirmed that an incident involving Payne and Sail had taken place, saying that they too were investigating.
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