Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini banned for three matches over headbutt

Referee missed Belgian's misconduct

Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has been banned for three matches after accepting a charge of violent conduct for his clash with Stoke's Ryan Shawcross.

The Football Association brought the charge retrospectively after reviewing footage of Everton's 1-1 draw with Stoke in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

Fellaini and Everton accepted the charge, little surprise considering the player had already apologised and his manager David Moyes also condemned the incident, meaning he will miss the Toffees' next three games.

The ban is the equivalent of what the 25-year-old would have received had referee Mark Halsey seen the incident at the Britannia Stadium and issued a red card.

Fellaini will now miss Everton's Christmas fixtures against West Ham, Wigan and Chelsea and will not be available again until the trip to Newcastle on January 2.

A statement from the FA also referred to two other clashes between Fellaini and Shawcross at the Britannia Stadium but Halsey has confirmed he saw both and did not consider them violent conduct.

Fellaini's absence will be sorely felt by Everton after an inspirational first half of the season.

The Belgium international has scored eight goals and been the driving force of a team currently fifth in the table and pushing for a Champions League place.

The FA's statement read: "The FA has charged Everton's Marouane Fellaini retrospectively with violent conduct following his side's game at Stoke City on Saturday 15 December, 2012.

"The charge is in relation to an incident in the 59th minute involving Fellaini and Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross, which was not seen by the match officials, but caught on video.

"The referee confirmed that he saw two further incidents in the 71st and 91st minutes, also involving Fellaini and Shawcross, neither of which he deemed to be violent conduct."

A report on Everton's website confirmed that the Merseyside club would accept the charge.

Fellaini issued a statement after the game apologising for his actions.

He said: "I apologise completely to Ryan Shawcross, my team mates and to our fans at the game.

"There was a lot of pushing and pulling going on inside the Stoke penalty area and I didn't feel I was getting any protection from the officials.

"Nevertheless I know I shouldn't have done what I did.

"I have also apologised to the manager and the staff. I have no excuses, I was disappointed with the way I was being treated and I lost my temper, which was unprofessional of me."

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, gave credit Fellaini for his apology and to Moyes, who said he expected punishment.

Taylor said: "It is good to see the lad has apologised for his actions.

"It is disappointing, he has had a great season and obviously it is an aberration.

"It was refreshing to hear the manager accept what he did was wrong and for the player to apologise. He's prepared to accept what comes his way."

PA

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