The independent Disciplinary & Ethics Committee have handed down their determination following a Round 18 incident involving Melbourne City FC goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.
The Football Federation Australia (FFA) independent Disciplinary & Ethics Committee comprising John Marshall SC (Chair), Anthony Lo Surdo SC and David Barrett (the Committee) convened to consider an incident referred to it, which arose in or around the 88th minute of Melbourne City FC’s Round 18 Hyundai A-League Match against Melbourne Victory on Saturday, 4 February 2017. The incident involved Dean Bouzanis (the Player) of Melbourne City FC.
The matter was referred to the Committee by the independent Match Review Panel (MRP), which having reviewed the incident at a hearing on Monday 6 February 2017 determined that, on the basis of the evidence reviewed, the Player had a case to answer whether he committed the offence of “Use of discriminatory language and/or gestures, including racist, religious, ethnic or sexist” (Offence). The MRP issued a Disciplinary Notice to the Player and referred the incident to the Committee for hearing as to whether the Offence has been committed, and if so, what sanction should be imposed.
The Committee determined that the Player did commit the Offence and must serve a suspension of five (5) matches, being the Mandatory Match Suspension plus four (4) additional Hyundai A-League matches (being the Minimum Sanction prescribed by the Hyundai A-League Disciplinary Regulations) for committing the offence of “Use of discriminatory language and/or gestures, including racist, religious, ethnic or sexist”.
The Player has the right to appeal the determination of the Committee. If the Player intends to do so, he must advise FFA within 7 days of receiving the written determination.
In confirming the sanction and serious nature of the offence, FFA would like to acknowledge the way Melbourne City FC and Dean Bouzanis have handled the situation since the match concluded.
“There is no doubt this is a serious offence and FFA reinforces its stance on the use of racial or other discriminatory remarks,” said FFA CEO David Gallop. “Football’s strength is its ability to unite people from all backgrounds and walks of life and we will not tolerate racial vilification in our sport.
“In saying that, FFA commends the exemplary response of Melbourne City and Dean Bouzanis in immediately seeking to deal with the issue, recognising that the behaviour was unacceptable, showing genuine remorse, taking proactive steps to apologise in person to the opposition player involved and working with the PFA to learn from the incident and help educate the player.”
Melbourne City FC have subsequently released a statement saying the club and player fully accept the suspension handed down by the independent Disciplinary & Ethics Committee on Wednesday evening.
Bouzanis said: “I have accepted the sanction handed down this evening. I have apologised to Berisha and Melbourne Victory directly and I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my apology to the fans and the broader Australian football community. My future actions on and off the pitch will demonstrate I have learnt from this experience.”