Sun Jihai has insisted he does not plan to quit international football despite being handed a five-game suspension by FIFA.
The 30-year-old Manchester City defender was sanctioned after being sent off from the bench during China’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar in Tianjin earlier this month.
Sun was also fined 7,000 Swiss francs (€4,350) for verbally abusing Lebanese referee Talaat Najm as China went down to a controversial penalty to scupper their hopes of reaching the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.
“I was surprised when I heard of the suspension,” said Sun. “I just said some words, which are usually heard in the Premier League. I did not verbally abuse him or insult him.
“I do know I did something wrong at the time. But in the past, China has been disadvantaged by the referee’s whistle.
“I have nothing to say as China is a constant underachiever in soccer. But I still believe the referee at that match had problems with his whistle.”
The ban rules him out of the forthcoming Olympics in Beijing, where he could have played as one of three over-age players, but Sun is adamant he has no intention of retiring from the international game yet.
“Yes, it will be a long time before I show up for the national team again, but anything is possible,” he said. “I am not quitting yet and I still have the ambition to play for the national team.”
Sun looks set to leave Manchester City following the arrival of new manager Mark Hughes but intends to continue playing in Europe next season.
“I still hope to play in European leagues,” he said. “The 2008 Euros shows they are playing the best soccer in the world.”