Sydney - Australia's Tim Cahill has apologised for swearing at a referee after he was bizarrely sent off before he even made it onto the pitch in last week's explosive Melbourne derby.
The former Everton forward, now with Melbourne City, was about to come on as a substitute when he made his comments to the referee following Melbourne Victory's controversial winner.
"I sincerely apologise to (referee) Chris Beath for my reaction," Australia's all-time record goalscorer, 37, said via Instagram late Monday.
"My behaviour also hurt the game so I also apologise to my team, to Melbourne Victory and to all the fans at the game and watching at home.
"Regardless of whatever happens on the pitch, I have to respect the game and the officials. I want the game to grow in Australia and I want to do all I can to help that happen.
"No matter the situation, I have to set an example and be accountable for my words and actions."
Tempers flared late in the game after Victory scored twice in two minutes to grab a 2-1 win, sealed by a Manny Muscat own goal which was briefly ruled out for offside.
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Including Cahill's one-match ban, Melbourne City have six players suspended for their next A-League game and a seventh, goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, is likely to join them.
Bouzanis faces a charge of using a racist slur against Victory's Albanian striker Besart Berisha. TV cameras twice caught him calling Berisha a "gypsy".
Bouzanis and Melbourne City subsequently issued a personal and formal apology to Berisha and Melbourne Victory over the goalkeeper's comments.