Alexa

Goalkeeper banned for 15 months, might miss Beijing Olympics

Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic's last-minute red card for striking referee Mark Shield in the Australian A-League grand final has resulted in a 15-month suspension _ and possibly a ban against him competing at the Beijing Olympics.
Vukovic was given the ban _ six months of it suspended on a probationary basis _ after he was found guilty by Football Federation Australia of violent conduct in the match in which his Central Coast Mariners lost 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets in the league's championship at Sydney.
Video of the match clearly showed Vukovic striking Shield's arm following a corner kick in which the Mariners claimed the referee missed a handball by Newcastle's James Holland.
The suspension means Vukovic will not be eligible to play in the A-League until Nov. 24, and if he re-offends in the following year, the suspended six months of his suspension will be activated.
Vukovic's chances of representing Australia at the Olympics is also under threat with the FFA "considering the extension of the sanction beyond the A-League, including to national team duty."
He was an regular member of the Australian under-23 team during last year's successful qualifying campaign.
Vukovic has seven days in which to appeal the decision.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek said Vukovic's actions were "stupid."
"I think that's one of the things players have to learn," Verbeek said. "It's stupid, there's no doubt about that. We can be honest about that. He should have never done that.
"Hopefully he will learn from it and hopefully every player can learn from it because you can not accept things like that as a professional football player."
Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna said after the match he was unaware of the referee being hit, but said Vukovic had let his emotions get the better of him.
"I think it's just passion and hunger and when you see something and it doesn't get dealt with," McKinna said.