Defender’s red card rescinded as teammate’s appeal declined & Victory full-back challenges ban

Macarthur FC defender Ivan Vujica’s suspension has been lifted after Football Australia reviewed a red card issued to the full-back in an Isuzu UTE A-League clash with Sydney FC on Saturday night.

Vujica was controversially sent off in the 36th minute of Macarthur’s 1-0 win over Sydney FC after intervention from VAR and a review of a challenge between the Bulls defender and Sydney’s Joe Lolley which initially earned a yellow card before an upgrade to red.

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Macarthur FC submitted an Obvious Error Application to Football Australia’s independent Match Review Panel and that application was upheld, confirming Vujica as eligible to play for Macarthur against Wellington Phoenix in the final round of the Isuzu UTE A-League regular season.

Football Australia Head of Referees Nathan Magill reviewed the incident and confirmed referee Daniel Elder’s decision to upgrade his decision from yellow to red was incorrect and that Video Assistant Referee Lara Lee should not have intervened.

“After a thorough review of the incident, it appears that the Video Assistant Referee has overly concentrated on the point of contact when determining the need for an on-field review regarding a possible red card,” Magill said in a FA statement.

“According to the laws of the game, the challenge occurred with normal playing intensity and speed, as both players were engaging in a typical motion to contest the ball. Although the contact was made at the ankle/lower shin, it was brief and occurred with the leg raised, which mitigates the severity of the force used.

“Considering the nature of the contact, the incident was handled appropriately on-field. Consequently, the intervention by the Video Assistant Referee was unnecessary as the situation did not meet the threshold for a ‘clear and obvious error’, which is the standard required for Video Assistant Referee intervention in the A-Leagues.

“While it is recognised that this could have been addressed during the review, the decision to escalate from a yellow to a red card was not warranted based on the established criteria.”

“At the end of the season, the Football Australia Referees Department will conduct a detailed review of the A-League match officials’ team. The review will involve Club Football Directors, Club Owners, Match Officials, the Australian Professional Leagues, and Professional Footballers Australia. The goal is to ensure continued collaboration to support the A-Leagues within the broader football ecosystem ahead of the 2024-25 season.”

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Vujica was’t the only Macarthur defender to see red against Sydney FC; Tommy Smith earned his marching orders in the second half of the Bulls’ 1-0 win after catching Sky Blues striker Fabio Gomes in the mouth with his left forearm.

Football Australia’s independent Match Review Panel confirmed Smith submitted an Obvious Error Application in relation to the incident but the MRP dimissed the application after consideration.

The MRP noted that: “As Smith was issued with a direct Red Card for ‘Violent conduct’, for the Smith Application to be successful, the MRP needed to unanimously determine that a Red Card was issued when no card was warranted, being a decision that no referee in the possession of all the facts including all broadcast footage could reasonably have made.

“The MRP considered and dismissed the Smith Application. The MRP also determined that the Smith Application was not frivolous.”

Melbourne Victory full-back Jason Geria was also sent off on Saturday, in his side’s 0-0 draw with Brisbane Roar.

The MRP considered the incident in which Geria received a red card for a tackle on Brisbane left-back Corey Brown in the 51st minute of the goalless draw.

The MRP determined Geria had committed the offence of “Serious foul play (e.g. when challenging for the ball)” and proposed a supension of two games for the offence, being the minimum sanction plus one game.

The suspension would rule Geria out of action for both the final round of the regular season and Melbourne Victory’s first game of the Finals Series: an Elimination Final against a yet to be determined opponent.

Geria has advised Football Australia he wishes to refer the matter to the independent Disciplinary and Ethics Committee.