Novillo was given a two-week suspension by the A-League match review panel for kicking out in the direction of Reds players during a halftime melee in this month’s final-round clash at AAMI Park.
The 24-year-old Frenchman served his mandatory week’s suspension on Sunday, watching City’s elimination final win over Perth, and had been hoping to have the second expunged, just as Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha controversially did last week.
But Novillo’s claim that he threw his leg out to regain balance during the heated scuffle did not fly with the committee, which ruled yesterday evening his additional match sanction should be upheld.
Over a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, council representing Novillo, David Grace QC, told how his client had become involved in the dust-up after stepping between teammate Bruno Fornaroli and Adelaide midfielder Isaias as they mouthed off at each other in Spanish.
He said he was pushed from behind by Reds forward Marcelo Carrusca, then pushed again in the ensuing scuffle by Adelaide’s goalkeeper coach Peter Blazincic, causing him to lose his balance.
“I tried to stay standing… I was falling back – I didn’t touch no one,” Novillo said.
He also claimed he was attempting to perform a good deed by separating the incensed players from each other as he fell.
The committee deemed the explanations to be inconsistent, with disciplinary council Anais D’Arville instead proposing that the very reason Novillo had lost his balance was because he had kicked out at opponents.
Grace pressed for a charge downgrade from “assault on a player” to “serious unsporting conduct”, on the grounds the kick had no force and made no contact with anyone.
That downgrade would have meant only a one-match ban, like the one Melbourne Victory’s Fahid Ben Khalfallah received for a February incident involving Perth defender Shane Lowry.
However the committee said the question of whether contact had been made was irrelevant because excessive force had still been used.
“The whole situation is extremely unfortunate and, in the whole scheme of things, Mr Novillo’s incident isn’t the worst, but it is the one before us,” said committee chairman John Marshall SC.
Novillo expressed regret over his actions and admitted the scuffle was a bad look for the game.
“We have to work together to stop this in the future,” he said.
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