German defender Antonio Rudiger has taken to social media to apologize to French defender Benjamin Pavard for stomping on his neck in the early stages of their 0-0 draw in the UEFA Nations League on Thursday. Rudiger was bombing down the left flank in just the third minute of the match, when Pavard slid in to successfully dispossess his opponent. After doing so, the two became tangled, and Rudiger’s boot landed straight on Pavard’s neck while he was prone on the ground.
The incident drew massive attention after Pavard came off the pitch with nasty cleat marks slashed across his neck. The Frenchman remained in the game for the rest of the match, while Rudiger mystifyingly came out of the incident without earning a yellow card.
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After the replay was shown, fans and analysts questioned whether the stamp was intentional, as Rudiger appeared relatively well-balanced throughout the play and quite uninhibited by the tackle, although it happened at such high speed and is certainly impossible to discern true intention. The German professed his innocence amid the apology.
Pavard came off the field and sported brutal slash marks clean across the right side of his neck, but was able to continue the match.
It’s unlikely that his immediate future with his club Stuttgart could be in jeopardy from the injury. France does not have another match scheduled this international break, while the German club doesn’t play next until September 16.