The Central Coast Mariners striker appeared before Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) independent disciplinary committee yesterday, pleading guilty with mitigating circumstances to a charge of violent off-the-ball conduct.
The committee accepted O’Donovan had a momentary lapse of judgement when retaliating after he was elbowed in the eye by Muscat. They also took into account O’Donovan’s good record.
However, it also cited the serious nature of his action in its decision to issue the most severe ban recommended by the FFA’s disciplinary council, who proposed between six and eight weeks.
It suggested that, while different in nature, it was worthy of the same level of punishment— eight weeks — given to Kevin Muscat for his brutal tackle on Adrian Zahra in 2011. Disciplinary council representative Anais D’Arville argued O’Donovan’s case was more serious than that of the now-Melbourne Victory coach, in the sense it was deliberate and did not occur in the run of play.
It was less serious, he said, in that Manny Muscat was not hurt, whereas Zahra sustained a serious knee injury.
Mariners may appeal, said chief executive Shaun Mielekamp.
“We are extremely disappointed at the decision,” Mielekamp said. “The disparity in sanctions issued for this match highlights the flaws in the system. The media circus around the incident has had a high impact on the result and we will look at our various avenues for appeal.”