Dusan Vlahovic, the Serbia striker, made a bizarre appearance at a press conference in which he denied having an affair with the wife of one of his team-mates.
The Juventus forward has threatened legal action to “protect my name and my integrity” following speculation on social media and in the European press that he has been dropped because of the alleged affair.
Vlahovic described the allegations as “absurd” and said he felt compelled to address the unsubstantiated rumours regarding the wife of goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.
The 22-year-old has been struggling with a groin problem and has not started the first two matches of this tournament.
“I am sorry to have to start the press conference in the World Cup this way, but I have to talk about it because this is my name being bandied about,” said Vlahovic.
“What we all read and hear about, there’s no need to comment on something so absurd. Evidently these people are bored and have nothing better to do because they are frustrated or angry, but working against the national interest of the team at the moment is obviously their main job right now.
“We are more united than ever and the atmosphere in the squad has never been better. These stories are ridiculous, I just want to protect my name and my integrity, so I will take legal action if necessary.
“It’s not the first time this has happened. I would have hoped that people would support the team before such an important match, but instead we are forced to talk about things that have nothing to do with it.
“These are people with empty CVs who achieved nothing, but they will certainly not get extra attention off my name. They have always been small people and prove it day by day.”
Serbia have one point after two games in Group G and must defeat Switzerland on Friday if they are to qualify for the knockout stages.