Ghana attacking midfielder Andre Ayew says there was no malicious intent to harm his opponent in an incident that led to him receiving a red card during his return to the French Ligue 1 with Le Havre.
Making his debut in Ligue 1 after an eight-year hiatus since leaving Marseille in 2015, the Black Stars captain received a straight red card a mere two minutes after entering the match against Nantes on Sunday.
The 33-year-old collided with Eray Comert in a 50-50 ball situation, resulting in his expulsion. The decision was widely criticized by fans on social media for its perceived harshness.
In a post-match interview with Le Havre's media team, Ayew offered his perspective on the incident, stressing that he had no intention of causing harm to the opposing player.
“It’s true that what happened was frustrating, but that’s football. I think that with some experience, we can look at some situations in hindsight but I am rather calm after I looked at the images.
“On the incident, this is what I made of it. There was a 50-50 ball, and we went in before I did. I saw that he had dived in and I lifted my foot.
“In the process, I tried to land to regain and in regaining my footing, I stepped on his shin guard.
“At that moment, the referee gave his decision, but that’s football. I did not have any intention to hurt him no matter what especially on my debut and return to Ligue 1.
“It’s true that when he touches the ball, he had a lifted foot but mine was too and he got his foot under my heel. That’s what happened, and I did not mean to hurt him. An incident like this happening on my return to Ligue 1 is tough to take.”