Kezman banned for three matches after US fracas

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The Independent Online

Mateja Kezman, the Chelsea striker, received a three-match domestic ban from the Football Association yesterday following his sending off against Roma during last week's pre-season friendly in the United States.

Mateja Kezman, the Chelsea striker, received a three-match domestic ban from the Football Association yesterday following his sending off against Roma during last week's pre-season friendly in the United States.

The £5.3m summer arrival from PSV Eindhoven was dismissed for an altercation with Olivier Dacourt following a needless hack by the former Leeds United midfielder on Arjen Robben during the Champions World series match in Pittsburgh. The FA received an official report of the incident from US Soccer.

Chelsea believed that because Kezman sat out the next match of their tour against Milan on Monday the striker had served his relevant punishment. However, the FA does not regard friendlies as counting towards any ban, and so has ruled that Kezman must complete a three-match suspension, which is scheduled to begin on 17 August. This means that the Serbia & Montenegro striker is free to face Manchester United in the Premiership opener, but he will miss the matches against Birmingham City, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

"Kezman was sent off for violent conduct in the pre-season friendly against Roma played on 29 July in the USA, and the FA have now received the referee's report from the US Soccer Federation," the FA stated. "Pre-season friendlies are not subject to the fast-track system to be introduced for competitive matches this season, and as a result the suspension starts 14 days from receipt of the official report."

Although the suspension is not governed by the FA's new disciplinary system announced last week, Chelsea are entitled to lodge an appeal for wrongful dismissal within the next 14 days.

The club look likely to lose another striker as Adrian Mutu is set to join Juventus on a year-long loan, according to his agent. The Italian club have been pursuing the Romanian international for several weeks and could complete the transfer soon. "It's now 99 per cent likely that Mutu will sign a contract with Juventus," Ioan Becali, Mutu's agent, said. The player is to fly to Turin for a medical.

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