Indonesian given life ban for punching referee
An Indonesian player was handed a life ban Wednesday for punching a referee in the face, with officials saying the outburst of violence had "tarnished the image of Indonesian football".
It was the first life ban for a player in the country since 2008, and adds to the woeful state of football in Southeast Asia's biggest nation as it tries to recover from a crisis which saw rival federations running separate leagues.
The violence erupted when Pieter Rumaropen's side, Persiwa Wamena, were 1-1 against Pelita Bandung Raya in a Super League match on Sunday.
Referee Muhaimin awarded a penalty to Pelita with eight minutes left of the game in Bandung, West Java province -- prompting Rumaropen to run up behind the official and hit him in the face with a left hook.
Muhaimin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, began bleeding heavily and was admitted to hospital where he needed four stitches on his lips.
"This was a terrible act that we cannot tolerate," said Hinca Panjaitan, head of the disciplinary committee of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), as he announced the ban after a meeting in Jakarta.
"It has tarnished the image of Indonesian football in the international community, I hope this punishment will repair that."
The match had to be halted briefly for another referee to take over as Muhaimin went off.
The replacement official promptly showed Rumaropen a red card and his side went on to lose the game 2-1 after Pelita scored the penalty.
The life ban, which comes into effect Thursday, was the first for a footballer in Indonesia for five years.
In 2008, four players received the same punishment after kicking a referee and pulling down his shorts.
Indonesian football was in crisis for two years with the PSSI and the Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI) running rival leagues.
The two finally agreed to unite last month, with the KPSI set to become part of the PSSI, after world governing body FIFA threatened to ban Indonesia from international matches if the problem was not resolved.
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