Gulum: ‘How can a ball boy pretend he has cramps in his leg?’
ADELAIDE United's Ersan Gulum believes the ball boy at the centre of the FFA Cup final storm which may cost Michael Marrone a hefty suspension was told to delay handing the ball back to the Reds.
The incident sparked wild scenes in extra time of the final that Adelaide lost 2-1 to Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium when the Sky Blues striker Matt Simon confronted Marrone after the ball boy hit the deck.
Marrone, 30, is destined to face Football Federation Australia's disciplinary committee.
Marrone was trying to retrieve the ball from the youngster who appeared to turn his back on the Reds defender deep into extra time when United was chasing the game.
Gulum was on the bench after ending his shift when all hell broke loose.
"I'm assuming this, but how can a ball boy pretend he has cramps in his leg and not give the ball back,'' Gulum said at Sydney airport on Wednesday.
"My 70-year-old grandfather doesn't get cramps, he was holding his leg and saying when he had the ball 'I can't walk I've got cramps'.
"Can a 10-year-old boy think of something like that?
"If we were playing at home we would be telling our ball boys not to give the ball back straight away either.
"Everybody knows what type of person Mickey (Marrone) is, he is a quiet boy I wish he was a little bit louder.
"He is a gentleman, it's just an unfortunate situation and it has been blown out of proportion."
Gulum was hopeful but not confident Marrone, who along with coach Marco Kurz apologised to the boy and his father after the game, would avoid a long ban.
FFA has a tough call to make if it decides to extend the Reds defender's suspension beyond the mandatory one-match ban for the red card that was issued to him on Tuesday.
With Marrone definitely missing Sunday's clash against Western Sydney at Hindmarsh, the FFA may use as a blueprint the banning of Chelsea's Eden Hazard for three matches when he kicked ball boy for not during an English League Cup tie four years ago.
But FFA chief executive David Gallop claiming the incident was a "bad look" for the game isn't an ideal scenario for the Reds right back.
"It was unfortunate,'' Gallop said.
"I think perhaps some lessons for a few people in that one and glad it didn't detract for what was an exciting finish to the game and glad that the boy and father got to share the win in the end.
"It was unfortunate and thankfully no one was hurt."
Sydney defender Michael Zullo revealed the winner's medal which he handed the ball boy on the presentation dais was given back.
Gulum also revealed he was booked for being cheeky on Tuesday after he decided to coach the team from the 77th minute - when he left the pitch opposite coach Marco Kurz's bench and stayed there.
It took the match officials a while to notice before Gulum was cautioned.
"I was encouraging the boys,'' he said.
"I was trying to hide but they saw it, I was just trying push my teammates on, and the ref said "what are you doing here?"