Fabiano's spitting ban reduced

Melbourne Victory's A-League Brazilian Striker Ney Fabiano had a "small win" when his suspension for spitting was reduced from nine matches to six.

While the three-man panel headed by Alan Sullivan QC dismissed Fabiano's appeal against his charge, they cut the ban to the minimum length for the offence.

The committee of Sullivan, former Socceroo Brad Maloney and Arthur Koumoukelis, a partner in Sydney law firm Gaydens Lawyers, ruled it was unreasonable to impose a sanction greater than the minimum sentence.

The Victory forward was sent off by referee Matthew Breeze for spitting at Adelaide's Robert Cornthwaite in the round four fixture.

Fabiano, 29, will now be available to play again from round 11, when Melbourne meet the Queensland Roar, having already served one match of his sentence.

"We are very disappointed with the outcome of tonight, albeit we've had a small win, although it is a positive the sentence has been reduced and he will be back on the pitch sooner," Melbourne football operation manager Gary Cole said.

"Our plea throughout has been that the incident didn't involve a spitting action and wasn't intentional, but after the extensive process we accept the decision."

Fabiano's barrister Nick Papas had argued his client should only receive the minimum sentence because the disciplinary committee had not clearly articulated their reasons for imposing a nine week ban and also because of the player's disciplinary record.

Fabiano, who has played professional for 14 years in Brazil, Thailand and Australia had only been sent off once before and that was for two yellow card offences.

Melbourne had intended to present evidence from a speech pathologist and also a biomechanist.

However, the committee wouldn't allow the new evidence to be submitted as it had not been presented to the disciplinary committee last week.

Papas argued that the decision reached by the disciplinary committee was not reasonably open to that body and also questioned whether it had applied a rigorous enough standard to the innocent hypothesis given the seriousness of the allegations against Fabiano.

He argued that referee Matthew Breeze could not have seen Fabiano's spit at Cornthwaite as he was not looking at the Brazilian at the time the Victory striker expectorated.

However, FFA disciplinary counsel David McLure counted that assertion and suggested the official used his other senses, including hearing.

Fabiano sat at the back of the room and was guided through proceedings by an interpreter.