Banned ... Joel Griffiths of Sydney Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY FC will not appeal Joel Griffiths's three-match ban but have called the process of the match review panel into question and issued a ''please explain'' to Football Federation Australia.
The club is seeking clarity regarding the process involved in suspending Griffiths as the matter was not initially raised by the panel when it met after round 18. The panel acted on the incident days later after they were notified of the incident by external parties.
Griffiths pleaded guilty to offensive and abusive language directed at the linesman during Sydney's 3-1 loss to Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Australia Day, but the club was not notified of his suspension until 5pm last Friday, just 24 hours before they played Newcastle.
Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata did not dispute the panel's findings or its integrity but is frustrated with the timing and manner in which it was raised as it disrupted their match preparations.
''We have also asked FFA for clarification on the timing of the notification and subsequent suspension as we believe the process in this instance was inconsistent with previous MRP cases and raises concerns for all A-League clubs and players,'' Pignata said.
There are concerns within the club that the panel only investigated Griffiths's verbal tirade after the FFA received a flurry of complaints from external sources, including television audiences. Pignata has called for a meeting with A-League boss Damien De Bohun for early next to discuss the process taken and is asking for transparency as to how the matter was raised and by whom.
''I don't want this to happen to any other club,'' Pignata said. ''How far can we go? We have fans calling in and reporting. We doubt it was another club. I don't know who it was but it must be someone outside the whole football process.''
The FFA hit back at any suggestions the panel acted other than in accordance with procedure as it is within its rights to follow up on reports from a range of sources.
''To be clear, the incident was reported to FFA by several sources later in the week. As with all independent reports, these are vetted by the FFA regulatory officers. In this case, the incident warranted referral to the MRP,'' De Bohun said.
Fairfax Media understands the timing of the suspension occurred in part due to the long weekend and the lateness in which they were notified of Griffiths's offensive spray at the linesman.
The panel met on Tuesday instead of its regular Monday after the game due to the Australia Day public holiday. It received complaints from sources on Wednesday. De Bohun said the nature of the complaints did not influence the panel in its decision to ban Griffiths, who admitted his guilt.
''The MRP did not base its decision on an allegation or the independent reports received, but the video footage as confirmed by the player's admission of the offence,'' he said. ''It doesn't matter how the incident is reported.''