A Vissel Kobe teammate of Andres Iniesta has been suspended for a month after leaking news to a friend of his absence ahead of a J-League game.
The club said Shunki Takahashi had told a friend via instant messaging that Iniesta, who joined in May, would not appear against Urawa Reds on Sept. 23 due to injury.
The friend posted the information on Twitter and, although the post was quickly deleted, local media outlets and fans had been alerted.
An investigation confirmed that the league's confidentiality rules had been breached.
"We sincerely apologise to supporters and everyone concerned for causing inconvenience and worry," the club said in a statement.
Defender Takahashi, who has appeared in 10 league games this season -- one more than Iniesta -- also released a statement in which he apologised to the J-League, Vissel Kobe and the fans.
"There can be no excuses, and in the future I will not repeat the same action," the statement said.
The incident comes at a bad time for Kobe, who have taken just one point from the last six games in the league to slip down to 11th, six points clear of the relegation zone.