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Son Heung-min injured finger in row before Asian Cup semifinals: federation

Feb. 14, 2024 - 11:15 By Yonhap
Son Heung-min of South Korea reacts to his team's 2-0 loss to Jordan in the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Feb. 6, 2024. (Yonhap)

The South Korean football federation on Wednesday confirmed a British media report that South Korea captain Son Heung-min had injured his finger in a dustup with teammates on the eve of the country's shock loss at the top Asian tournament last week.

The Sun reported Tuesday that Son dislocated his finger in a row that erupted over team dinner on Feb. 5 in Qatar, the night before South Korea's semifinal match against Jordan at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup.

South Korea lost the match 2-0, unable to register a shot on target against a team ranked 64 spots below them at No. 87. South Korea were trying to win their first AFC crown since 1960.

According to the report, Lee Kang-in of Paris Saint-Germain, 22, was one of the younger members of the team who finished their dinner quickly to go play table tennis. Son was none too pleased with that because, per the report, he considered the team meal as an opportunity for team bonding on the eve of an important match.

An altercation broke out following an exchange of words, and Son, 31, came out of it with a dislocated finger, according to the Sun.

An unidentified source told the newspaper that when Son asked the younger players to sit down, "some disrespectful things were said to him."

"Within seconds, the row spilled into the dining area and players were being pulled apart," the source was quoted as saying. "Son badly injured his finger trying to calm everyone down."

An official with the Korea Football Association confirmed that the incident took place.

"It happened when some young players went up to play table tennis, and Son Heung-min and other older players took issue with it," the official said. "The players exchanged a few words and Son hurt his finger in the process."

Son played in the semifinal match with his right index and middle fingers strapped together.

In the aftermath of the tournament exit, South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been hearing growing calls to resign over his lack of leadership. The incident the night before the loss hints at a deeper team chemistry problem, too.

The KFA is scheduled to convene a meeting of its National Team Committee on Thursday to discuss Klinsmann's status. Klinsmann, who is back home in the United States, will attend the meeting via a video conference. (Yonhap)