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Sydney FC defend Graham Arnold as he faces possible touchline ban from FFA

Late drama: Referee Strebre Delovski awards the decisive penalty to Adelaide United in injury time. Photo: Getty Images Sydney FC are claiming a misunderstanding over words as their defence for coach Graham Arnold, who faces a possible touchline ban from Football Federation due to his post-match comments labelling the Sky Blues’ loss to Adelaide as “criminal”.
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The club submitted its response to the governing body on Wednesday defending the coach who faces a punishment ranging from a reprimand to a possible match-day ban. Sydney hope their explanation will avoid having Arnold banned from engaging with the team on match day, leaving assistant Steve Corica to take the reins. Following their 2-1 defeat to Adelaide as a result of an injury-time penalty, Arnold issued an angry statement at the post-match press conference that has come under scrutiny from the FFA.

While not directly criticising referee Strebre Delovski, Arnold’s use of the term “criminal” to describe the nature of the loss is understood to have landed him and the club in hot water with FFA.  Arnold was also critical of FFA’s approach to coaches’ comments suggesting there is no free speech in the league and opinions are suppressed.

“So I just want to make a statement and then I will leave. Congratulations to Adelaide for winning the game, I’m very proud of my boys – they worked extremely hard, 11 against 10, I thought we did exceptional well and it was criminal how it ended,” Arnold said after the match. “That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I’d rather you guys write what you saw. It’s better that I don’t saying anything because last year I copped a $5000 [fine], you’re not allowed to have an opinion in this game.

Sydney were down a man after defender Alex Gersbach was sent off in the first half but fought their way back to square the ledger in the second half before Jacques Faty brought down Adelaide’s Dylan McGowan inside the box. That, Sydney will argue, is what Arnold meant by “criminal”.

Arnold was cited by the FFA on Tuesday for his comments which may have breached the FFA National Code of Conduct. “The head coach of Hyundai A-League club Sydney FC, Graham Arnold, has been cited under the FFA National Code of Conduct,” an FFA statement read. “The citing relates to comments made in the official post-match press conference following the Hyundai A-League round 10 match between Sydney FC and Adelaide United on 11 December 2015.”

Arnold has had no shortage of run-ins with the FFA over comments directed towards officials and was previously banned from the touchline after being sent off while coaching the Mariners. Arnold was also fined $5000 last season after heavily criticising officials who incorrectly disallowed Sydney FC a goal. 

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