Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma has apologised for calling teammate Diego Costa a cheater following the side's ill-tempered win over Arsenal on 19 September. The French centre-back said after the game that Costa "likes to cheat a lot", but has now claimed he used incorrect vocabulary due to his poor grasp of English.
Costa came in for widespread criticism for his role in the red card of Gabriel Paulista, which was preceded by the Spain striker shoving his hand in the face of Laurent Koscielny.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho backed his player, saying he made a "man of the match performance". But Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger claimed it was a clear red card offence and urged the FA to ban him for three games.
Zouma appeared to wade into the debate in a post-match interview with BeIN Sport. An interviewer asked him: "Arsenal will feel hard done by, they will claim you should have had a player sent off in Diego Costa, but this is a player that's famed for riling other players isn't he? Are you surprised that they reacted in this way?"
Zouma replied: "No, we're not surprised because we know Diego. Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game. That happened in the game but he's a really nice guy. We're proud to have him, like the other players, and we're happy to win this game today."
Zouma has since retracted those words, saying that he has huge respect for his teammate.
"Sorry for any confusion, English is not my first language and I did not mean to accuse anyone of cheating," he explained on his Twitter account. "Diego is a player who puts pressure on his opponents and who I have huge respect for."