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'Punch' could land Ivanovic with ban

BRANISLAV Ivanovic is facing the prospect of a three-game ban that would include Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham and the crunch Premier League match against Arsenal for an alleged punch in Saturday's 2-1 win against Wigan.

The Football Association is aware of internet video footage of the incident, in which Ivanovic appears to strike Wigan's Shaun Maloney in the body, and will ask referee Mike Jones for his view of what happened.

Should Jones say he did not see the off-the-ball incident and he thought it was worthy of a red card, the FA can issue a retrospective charge for violent conduct that would carry a three-game suspension.


A decision could not be fast-tracked before Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Fulham last night, and Ivanovic may now miss Sunday's Wembley FA Cup semi-final and the Premier League derbies with Arsenal and QPR.

Any ban would only apply to domestic matches, ensuring Ivanovic will be available for both Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona.

The absence of Ivanovic would be especially badly timed for Chelsea given that John Terry, who missed the match against Wigan, has been playing with two cracked ribs.

Jose Bosingwa or Paulo Ferreira would be the obvious replacement for Ivanovic at right-back.

The footage of Ivanovic's clash with Maloney is likely to further antagonise Wigan boss Roberto Martinez who, after his team lost to an injury-time winner, described the performance of assistant referee Dave Bryan as "horrific" and "disgusting".