Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty has been banned for 10 matches by the Scottish Football Association over a sectarian comment he made to a fan.
The 35-year-old was filmed making the comment after he was asked to pose for a photograph in a nightclub.
The Northern Ireland forward will now not play until Kilmarnock’s League Cup semi-final against Celtic in January.
“I want to deeply apologise to the club, supporters and my family for the distress caused,” Lafferty said.
“I totally acknowledge that my reaction to the incident was completely out of order.
“There is no excuse, it’s something that I immediately regretted and have been embarrassed about ever since. I absolutely accept that I should not have responded to provocation in that manner.”
The SFA recently changed its disciplinary rules around offensive behaviour, permitting stiffer penalties on those found guilty.
The use of insulting language which includes reference to the likes of ethnic origin, race, nationality, religion or belief carries a minimum 10-game ban that can only be reduced ‘where exceptional circumstances are established’.
Kilmarnock had already ‘substantially’ fined the former Rangers and Hearts forward for the incident and the club’s manager Derek McInnes expected the player to receive a lengthy suspension.
“He’s made a mistake, he’s put his hands up which was what we needed from him,” he said earlier this month.
“What he said was unacceptable and he has to take the consequences. Ultimately, we have as well.”
Lafferty has committed to work with Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity, Nil By Mouth, which provides education and training developed to tackle sectarianism in society.
“I placed myself in a position that has been very difficult to deal with,” said Lafferty, who has 85 caps but was left out of the Northern Ireland squad for September’s Nations League fixtures against Kosovo and Greece.
“I’m now determined to work with Nil By Mouth to ensure that others, particularly the youngsters at the club, learn from my mistake and avoid putting themselves in any type of similar situation in the future.”