Ban reduction frees Vukovic for Beijing
© AFP

Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will be able to play for Australia at August's Men's Olympic Football Tournament after an independent appeals committee reduced his ban for striking a referee, Football Federation Australia revealed on Wednesday. The committee cut Vukovic's original nine-month ban by four months, the FFA said.

Vukovic, playing for Central Coast Mariners, was red-carded for hitting referee Mark Shield in a stormy A-League Grand Final against Newcastle Jets in February. Vukovic's ban will be served in two parts - one effective through to 28 June and another from 29 August to 5 October.

In effect the ruling is structured so Vukovic is eligible to play for Australia at Beijing 2008 from 8 to 24 August. He will, however, still miss the opening seven games of the 2008/09 A-League season and has a further 15-week suspended sentence hanging over him.

The committee also fined Vukovic $9,500. Vukovic played in all of Australia's 14 Olympic qualifying matches.