Soccer: Bans for red-carded Phoenix players

Manny Muscat. Photo / Getty Images
Manny Muscat. Photo / Getty Images

Three Wellington Phoenix players sent off in a controversial pre-season match against the Newcastle Jets at the weekend have all been handed suspensions, but all will be available to play the opening game of the A-League season on October 6.

Manny Muscat and Ben Sigmund were red-carded, along with Jets' defender Tiago, after a first-half fracas. Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante was also ordered off following a second-half incident.

Muscat and Tiago were yesterday handed four-match bans by Football Federation Australia's independent match review panel, with Sigmund suspended for three matches and Durante two.

The Phoenix left for India on Sunday to take part in a four-team tournament and it has come at an ideal time, given all three will return from the sub-continent having served their time.

The club issued a statement today saying they won't be appealing the suspensions but the trio have also been fined by the club, with general manager David Dome saying the organisation had taken the incidents very seriously.

"Notwithstanding the play that led to the incidents, the club in no way condones any kind of retribution or fighting in a match. It is totally unacceptable and we have taken action immediately following the match,'' he said.

Coach Ricki Herbert has also been strong in his condemnation of the incidents.

"The day after the match Herbert addressed the entire squad and expressed his displeasure,'' said Dome. "He was unequivocal that incidents of this type will not be accepted by any player regardless of their seniority in the team.''

Herbert has also spoken individually to the three players involved.

The brawl occurred in the 25th minute after Muscat took exception to a hard tackle by Tiago, striking at the Brazilian as both players lay on the ground.

That sparked an all-in brawl which saw Sigmund earn a red card after running in and hitting Jets' player Jobe Wheelhouse in the back with his forearm.

Rookie referee Tim McGilchrist sent the two instigators Tiago and Muscat from the field, along with Sigmund.

Durante was red-carded in the second half after he lashed out at Jets' midfielder James Brown, leaving the Phoenix with eight men for the final 27 minutes.

The Phoenix kick off their A-League season when they host Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on October 6.

- APNZ

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