Griffiths banned for ref abuse

FORMER Jets golden boy Joel Griffiths has been ruled out of tonight’s A-League match in Newcastle after being banned for abusing a linesman last week.

Griffiths was suspended last night after a review of an incident in Sydney’s loss to Melbourne Victory by a reconvened A-League match review panel.

The incident happened in the 89th minute of the match, and Griffiths was charged with ‘‘use of offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures against a match official’’.

The 33-year-old faces a three-match suspension. He will serve a mandatory match suspension against the Jets and can appeal against the additional two-game ban.

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata condemned Griffiths’s behaviour.

‘‘Sydney FC is disappointed with what happened late in the game last weekend against Melbourne Victory that has led to Joel Griffiths receiving a three-match suspension,’’ Pignata said in a statement.

‘‘Sydney FC prides itself on setting standards in community behaviour and we expect our players to uphold those standards and set a good example. Joel has shown remorse for what happened and Sydney FC will consider its options in relation to appealing the severity of the suspension.’’

The A-League’s match review panel usually convenes earlier in the week, but it is understood the incident was not in the referees’ match report. An FFA source said an ‘‘independent’’ person had brought the matter to light.

It’s not the first time Griffiths has been involved in a controversy involving match officials. 

He appeared to punch a linesman in the groin when playing for Newcastle in 2007 but escaped further sanction on a technicality because he received a yellow card at the time.

The suspension denies Griffiths the opportunity to play alongside brother Adam and against his other brother, Ryan, in what would have been the first time three brothers had played together in an A-League fixture.

Griffiths is the seventh change forced on Sydney coach Frank Farina for the match against the fifth-placed Jets, who sit two points above the Sky Blues on the A-League ladder.

Brett Emerton (back) has been ruled out, Yairo Yau has been lost to international duty with Panama, while Fabio and Tiago are serving one-match suspensions. 

Goalkeeper Ivan Necevski returns from an ankle injury to take Matthew Nash’s place on the bench.

Another former Jet, Jason Culina, also pulled out late yesterday with a knee injury.

‘‘It’s certainly had its moments [this season],’’ Farina said.

‘‘We are probably five or six down from last week, but that is the reality of it – we have to live with it and just get on with it. Every day in football is a challenge.

‘‘When you are on a bit of a roller-coaster ride like we have been, it tends to stay that way.

‘‘We have to continue to keep working hard, take what we have got and keep battling away.’’

Sydney have managed a clean sheet only three times this season and Farina said that was the main focus of his depleted side as they attempt to keep their finals hopes alive.

‘‘It has been a problem for us. If we can get a clean sheet, that would be fantastic. That means we would pick up points.’’ 

- AAP

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