London Hearts Supporters Club

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Disillusioned Zaliukas set to quit Scotland

HEARTS defender Marius Zaliukas is ready to quit Scottish football in the belief that he has been unfairly punished for a headbutt on a player he insists did not happen
The Lithuania international's appeal against his dismissal in Saturday's league defeat against Aberdeen at Pittodrie was rejected by the Scottish Football Association. Zaliukas, 25, was dismissed by referee Iain Brines for butting opponent Lee Miller but Hearts were convinced television footage would clear the player.

Brines reviewed the incident this week but decided to stand by his original call, condemning Zaliukas to a three-match ban.

Zaliukas is still trying to come to terms with the outcome, which rules him out of Saturday's Edinburgh derby and two further games. "The club was very supportive of me, which I'm grateful for, and we were all confident justice would be done," he told Hearts' website.

"I did nothing wrong. Okay, I made a mistake when I got my yellow card in the game and I admit that. Looking back, it happened in the heat of the moment but was something I shouldn't have done. But I still maintain I didn't deserve the red card. I know referees have a difficult job but the whole world could see I did nothing wrong."

Zaliukas, who has been linked with a move to the Russian league when the transfer window opens today, added: "I like football here but I am now disillusioned with the game. I enjoy Scottish football but now I'm thinking I would rather leave if this sort of thing is going to happen. I like Hearts and the fans and want to do well for the team but what chance do players have when this sort of thing happens?"

The Hearts defender claims he has even had support from rival SPL players in the aftermath of the Pittodrie clash.

"I have spoken to players from other clubs since the incident and they were all surprised it was a red card having seen it on television," he said.

Hearts expressed dismay and anger that their appeal of the referee's decision was dismissed by the same match official. They believe Brines should not have been allowed the final say on the Zaliukas matter after he stood by his original decision.

The club could now consider a challenge to SFA procedures, provided they can secure the backing of their fellow clubs.

The SFA said yesterday that the club were welcome to propose an amendment to its disciplinary procedures at its annual general meeting at the end of the season.

But any changes would only come into force if backed by more than half of SFA member clubs. A spokesman for the SFA said: "Disciplinary procedures are approved by member clubs at the agm. If any member club wishes to bring forward proposals then that, of course, is their right."

In England, appeals are refereed to an independent panel and Hearts could propose the introduction of a similar system.

Taken from the Scotsman

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