PERSIJA Jakarta striker Marko Simic took the field against the Newcastle Jets in Tuesday’s night Asian Champions League qualifier despite being accused of indecently assaulting a female passenger on a flight from Bali.
Simic, the 31-year-old attacker for Indonesia's most successful football club, was in a Sydney court just hours before he was due to take on the Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium.
He was roundly booed by home fans whenever he touched the ball on Tuesday night.
The Newcastle Herald understands the Asian Football Confederation was made aware of the charges but Simic was cleared to play in the sudden-death clash.
The Croatian striker was arrested by Australian Federal Police upon his arrival into Sydney Airport on Sunday, after an alleged act of indecency without consent against a female passenger on a flight from Bali.
Simic was initially held in Sydney, but joined his teammates for a training session at McDonald Jones Stadium on Monday night.
He returned to Sydney for a court appearance on Tuesday morning.
It is understood a female passenger on the flight made a complaint to cabin crew that she had allegedly experienced unwanted touching by Simic. A report was filed by the flight crew to alert authorities on the ground and AFP officers were waiting at Sydney Airport for the plane's arrival. He was arrested and taken to Botany Bay police station where he was charged with one count of committing an act of indecency without consent and one count of common assault on board an overseas flight, before he was released on conditional bail.
On Tuesday Simic appeared at the Downing Centre Local, dressed in a black tracksuit and sneakers.
He was accompanied by his lawyer Robert Haralovic, who described his client's situation as “unenviable, to say the least”.
“My client is a professional football player … he is playing tonight against Newcastle, in Newcastle. He arrived in Sydney on Sunday … he has been arrested, he's here with the [Persjia Jakarta] team,” he told the court.
Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson acknowledged Simic “had to get up [to Newcastle] for his match”, but said she had to manage the criminal charges “like any other matter”.
“I can put it over for a week … but it can't be done in a few days.”
Ms Atkinson said it would take time for the Commonwealth to determine if Simic's matter would remain in the Local Court, or if it would be transferred to the District Court. Simic is due to face court again on April 9.