Ban reduction frees Vukovic for Beijing

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.