• Kyodo


Vissel Kobe have suspended defender Shunki Takahashi for a month for leaking news about teammate Andres Iniesta’s absence from the lineup ahead of a recent J. League match, the club said Friday.

The team has confirmed that the 28-year-old defender told a friend, via instant-messaging app LINE, that Iniesta would miss Vissel’s clash with the Urawa Reds at Saitama Stadium on Sept. 23.

The friend, who was planning to watch the match, had messaged Takahashi before kickoff asking whether former Spain and Barcelona legend Iniesta would play.

After being told Iniesta would not be on the side, he posted the information on Twitter. Although he quickly deleted the post, the news had already been widely shared.

Following an investigation of the matter by a lawyer, the club said Takahashi had breached league rules by disclosing confidential information to a person outside the organization. The ban was instituted as of Sept. 24, club officials said.

“We sincerely apologize to supporters and everyone concerned for causing inconvenience and worry,” the club said in a statement on its website.

The J. League also officially reprimanded Takahashi on Friday.

The 34-year-old Iniesta, widely considered one of the best midfielders of all time, agreed to sign with Vissel in May. He e has played nine league games for Vissel since debuting in July, scoring twice.

With five games remaining, Vissel are 11th in the 18-team standings without a win in their last six J. League matches.

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