Adelaide United defender Michael Marrone was last night hit with a four-game ban for knocking down a ball boy during the FFA Cup final but could be free to play next weekend after his near impeccable record was taken into account.
A Football Federation disciplinary committee found Marrone guilty of serious unsporting conduct for his red-card offence last week but decided to suspend two matches of his sentence on the account of his honest mistake and immediate steps to make amends.
It means Marrone will miss Friday night’s A-League game against Sydney FC but having missed last weekend’s 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers, he will be free to play against Melbourne Victory on December 8. A two-game suspended ban will hang over his head for the duration of the A-League season and will come into effect in the event of a similar offence, with details of that penalty to be confirmed on Wednesday.
Represented by interim club chief executive Nathan Kosmina, Marrone suggested he had no intention of colliding with the ball boy during extra time of the FFA Cup final. He apologised for the incident once again and did not contest his mistake, suggesting it was an error of judgment.
“I just wanted to take a throw-in. I was motioning for the ball,” Marrone said. “I thought he was going to just give it to me.”
Marrone’s disciplinary record was taken into account and viewed favourably, having received just one red card in 188 professional games in previously and that was for an unrelated offence. Marrone apologised immediately after the incident and attempted to speak to the boy after the game, but respected the family’s wishes for that to take place later in the week. Marrone did not complain when he received a red card from referee Kris Griffiths-Jones.
Marrone presented an email he sent to the ball boy’s father the day after the game, apologising for the incident. He also made a public statement reiterating his remorse, presented testaments from his teammates, coaches, news articles in his defence as well as character references from a former Adelaide United official.
“He has a very good record for a defender. He also – by all accounts – has a very good reputation as a player,” disciplinary committee chair John Marshall SC said.
However, the disciplinary committee ruled that the incident was worthy of the mandatory ban of one game, plus an additional three, two of which were suspended due to Marrone’s good character and the sincerity of his apologies.
Adelaide United accepted the ban.
“Marrone and the Club are happy with the fair and reasonable result and are looking forward to moving on and to focus on Friday night’s match against Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium,” a club statement read.