Coach banned for pushing ref in front of Pele

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean coach who manhandled a referee in front of Pele and Eric Cantona escaped on Tuesday with a season-long touchline ban and a fine.

Slobodan Pavkovic, coach of S.League side Young Lions and the Singapore Football Association (FAS) technical director, shoved the referee in a league match earlier this month attended by the famous pair and was fined $10,000 Singaporean dollars ($7,912) and banned pending a further hearing.

The Singaporean FA (FAS) agreed on Tuesday that Pavkovic's punishment had been sufficient.

"The FAS Disciplinary Committee does not condone any physical abuse or verbal abuse of referees," Disciplinary Committee Chairman K. Bala Chandran told reporters.

"Pavkovic pleaded guilty and admitted to the charge unreservedly. We have taken into account Pavkovic's mitigation and we believe that the punishment meted out by his employer is sufficient in this instance.

"We do not think it is necessary to add any further punishment."

Pavkovic said he had been mortified by his actions in front of the football greats.

"I deeply regret my actions and I fully accept the punishment meted out by FAS," Serbian Pavkovic said in a statement. "I approached the referee immediately after the match to apologise in person and the next day met FAS management, coaches and players to personally apologise to them as well.

Pele and Cantona had been in Singapore to officially kick off the 2011 New York Cosmo Asia Tour.

The last time the New York Cosmos were in Singapore was in the 1970s and this tour had marked the club's first visit to the region since its rebirth seven months ago.