MacLean sweats on ban after grabbing Kouassi’s groin during semi-final

Steven MacLean sweats on SFA ban after Hearts striker grabbed Eboue Kouassi’s groin during semi-final

  • A compliance officer will review television footage of the incident on Sunday 
  • Striker Steven MacLean dismissed it as a laugh, and added: ‘It’s fitba’, eh?’ 
  • A summer rule change means this could have serious consequences for him 

Hearts striker Steven MacLean will learn on Tuesday whether he faces a two-match ban for grabbing Eboue Kouassi’s groin after the SFA launched a disciplinary investigation.

Sportsmail understands the compliance officer will review television footage of the incident, which occurred as the pair jostled during the first half of Sunday’s 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final win for Celtic.

MacLean later dismissed it as ‘just a laugh’ but a summer rule change means there could now be more serious consequences for the veteran forward.

Steven MacLean will find out on Tuesday whether he has received a ban for his actions

Steven MacLean will find out on Tuesday whether he has received a ban for his actions

After similar incidents last season, clubs were warned that future attempts by a player to impact on an opponent’s groin area would be regarded as ‘brutality’ and therefore subject to the same red-card sanction as violent-conduct offences.

MacLean’s actions prompted furious protests from Parkhead midfielder Kouassi but were seemingly missed by referee Willie Collum, who didn’t reach for a card after speaking to both players. The Tynecastle forward was already on a booking.

The 36-year-old now seems likely to be hit with a retrospective two-match suspension in line with disciplinary protocol — although the process means he could still be available to feature in Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby.

The compliance officer will ask three former match officials to view video evidence and, if they share the opinion that a red-card offence was missed, a notice of complaint has to be raised by 3pm on Tuesday. The player then has a further 24 hours to respond. If the charge is contested, MacLean’s case would be expected to be considered by a judicial panel on Thursday.

He would miss Saturday’s Premiership rematch with Celtic and a subsequent meeting with Kilmarnock if found guilty at that point.

Speaking on Sunday, the ex-St Johnstone striker said: ‘It was just a laugh. It was a wee wind-up. It’s fitba’, eh?’

Meanwhile, Steven Naismith will discover the full extent of the knee injury which saw him limp out of the semi-final after undergoing a scan on Tuesday.

The Hearts striker grabbed Eboue Kouassi's groin during the Betfred Cup semi-final

The Hearts striker grabbed Eboue Kouassi’s groin during the Betfred Cup semi-final

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