Melbourne City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis has apologised and will undergo an education course after slurring Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha in Saturday night’s A-League derby.
But league chiefs are preparing to throw the book at the gloveman for calling the Albanian a “f***ing gypsy” in heated scenes at Etihad Stadium.
The pair clashed all night, with Bouzanis saving Berisha’s penalty with the scores locked at 0-0.
Berisha, who had earlier fluffed his lines with the goal at his mercy, recovered from his off night to score an equaliser.
He was also involved with Victory’s disputed winner on 86 minutes.
City protested the goal vigorously, claiming the season’s leading scorer was in an offside position and interfering with defender Manny Muscat, who toe-poked the decisive own-goal.
After a conference between referees, the goal stood and Berisha reacted by celebrating in Bouzanis’ face. The custodian returned fire with the derogatory taunt.
On Sunday morning, the club moved to calm the waters with an apology.
“Bouzanis admitted making the remarks out of ignorance; however, has since understood the seriousness of his comments,” a club statement read.
“Once informed of the gravity of his actions, Bouzanis committed to redressing the offence at the earliest opportunity.
“He will issue a formal and personal apology to the player and begin an appropriate educational course to rectify the gaps in his understanding.
“The club regrets the incident and any offence caused.”
City preparing for Bouzanis’ absence
Berisha was close to tears after the final whistle and needed consoling by coach Kevin Muscat.
“When the opposition comes and tells you things, it’s not easy,” Berisha told Fox Sports.
“I’m strong and will always prove people wrong. I’m really happy I stayed strong and scored the goal for my team.”
FFA will investigate the incident, along with Tim Cahill’s red card for dissent, on Monday.
The club is prepared for a code of conduct breach, which could sideline Bouzanis for up to five weeks – more than half of the season’s run-in.
But it could also be dealt with by the match review panel, which could give rise to a lesser stay out of the side.
In any case, City have the perfect replacement for the 26-year-old in Danish veteran Thomas Sorensen.