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Usain Bolt to trial with A-League’s Mariners

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SYDNEY (AP) Eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt will trial for six weeks with the Central Coast Mariners from next month in a deal which could see him play for a season in Australian football’s A-League.

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Australian football agent Tony Rallis said Monday a “deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt in principle has been agreed, subject to a couple of benchmarks.”

Rallis said it would be necessary for the 31-year-old Bolt to trial and for Football Federation Australia to support his salary.

“Once the FFA comes back and says that they’ll be part of the process, we’re going to the trial,” Rallis said.

Bolt has a long-held ambition to play professional football and, since his retirement from the track, has trialed with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and Stromsgodset in Norway.

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“If he’s competitive, he will lift our A-League profile,” Rallis said. “He will create dreams for young people and he will give the A-League a profile no amount of money can buy. This bloke’s an ambitious athlete. The A-League needed a hero and we got superman.”

Rallis said the owner of the Mariners would guarantee 70 percent of his salary and the FFA would be expected to fund the remainder.

Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said there was still a lot of work to do and a trial was imperative to determine Bolt’s skill level.

“It would only be big if he can play and if he can go really, really well,” he said. “Beause if he comes and he’s not up to the level then it actually has a detrimental effect.

“But if he comes and he’s as good as our reports are saying that he can be, then that would be very exciting and I’m sure that this stadium would be pretty full every time he put the boots on.”

Australian player to miss 2 games for shoving ball boy

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SYDNEY (AP) An Australian soccer player will miss two league games for shoving a 10-year-old ball boy late in his team’s FFA Cup final loss last week.

Adelaide United defender Michael Marrone received a four-match ban, with two suspended, after appearing at Football Federation Australia’s independent disciplinary committee on Tuesday.

He will be available to play Adelaide’s A-League game against Newcastle on Dec. 16.

The FFA last week charged Marrone for “engaging in serious unsporting conduct” during Adelaide’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC. Marrone knocked over the ball boy while trying to get the ball to take a throw-in during extra time.

The ball boy and his father were later allowed to take part in the trophy presentation ceremony.

While there are no precedents in Australia for such charges, Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard was banned for three games for violent conduct after kicking a ball boy in 2013.

Australia trials sanctions of red, yellow cards for coaches

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SYDNEY (AP) Referees in Australia will be encouraged to issue red and yellow cards to misbehaving coaches and team officials during a trial in the domestic top-flight men’s and women’s leagues.

Football Federation Australia on Tuesday said the A-League and W-League would be the first top-tier domestic competitions to receive approval from the International Football Advisory Board to conduct the trial, starting this Friday.

Coaching and support staff can be barred from the playing area under existing regulations, but the use of the red and yellow cards will allow spectators to see when cautions and ejections have been imposed – just as they do when players are sanctioned on the field.

Coaches and staff risk being sent from the field for repeated infringements including kicking or throwing water bottles, leaving their technical area, delaying the restart of the game or for using offensive language or gestures toward match officials, rival teams or fans.

Greg O’Rourke, head of the A-League and W-League, says “referees already have a process which is by way of conversation to coaches to warn them before removing them from the technical area after poor behavior. Essentially, this trial will visualize those steps and as such better communicate to fans that the referees are giving the coaches and others formal warnings.”

A-League final to be played on rugby-affected Sydney ground

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SYDNEY (AP) The A-League final on Sunday is likely to be played on a pitch churned by a Super Rugby match after failed negotiations to move the rugby to an alternative venue.

Football Federation Australia confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the A-League final between Sydney FC and the Melbourne Victory would be at Allianz Stadium, 24 hours after the New South Wales Waratahs and Auckland-based Blues meet there in Super Rugby.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said it and the New South Wales state government asked the Waratahs to move the rugby match to the North Sydney Oval but that proved unfeasible.

“These things are always more complicated than perhaps first envisaged,” Gallop said. “The fact is our grand final deserves a world-class surface and the traffic on Allianz Stadium makes this a challenge.”

Gallop said the standard of the pitch for last weekend’s semifinal between Sydney FC and Perth “had a noticeably detrimental effect on the play.”

The FFA “implored” stadium authorities to minimize the effect of the rugby match on the ground to ensure the final “is played on a surface that befits the occasion and the stature of the grand final as one of Australia’s showpiece sporting events.”

Sydney FC to face Melbourne Victory in A-League final

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SYDNEY (AP) Sydney FC will face the Melbourne Victory in next weekend’s grand final of Australian football’s A-League after the top-ranked teams won contrasting semifinals.

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While Sydney was as dominant as it has been throughout a 27-match regular season in its 3-0 win over Perth on Saturday, Melbourne needed a 70th-minute goal from striker Besart Berisha to advance with a 1-0 win Sunday over Brisbane.

Josh Brillante, Jordy Buijs and Filip Holosko scored first-half goals as Sydney continued a seemingly unstoppable drive towards its third A-League title – and its first since 2010. The video referee interceded in two of the goals, making the win contentious, but Sydney still demonstrated superiority over the young, confident and ambitious Perth side.

Sydney lost only once in 27 regular-season matches and will enter the final as a considerable favorite.

Berisha sank the hopes of his former club, Brisbane, with his late strike in Sunday’s second semifinal. While the margin was small, the Victory deserved to win after playing more assertively throughout the match.

Its semifinal victory means that the teams that finished first and second at the end of the regular season will contest the final for the fifth straight year. The final repeats the 2015 showdown between Sydney and Melbourne, which the Victory won 3-0.