Hearts striker Steven MacLean could be hit with a retrospective two-game ban over his clash with Celtic midfielder Eboue Kouassi on Sunday after the Scottish FA tightened up their disciplinary rules during the close-season.
Compliance officer Clare Whyte is expected to review the incident and could refer the matter to a three-man panel of former referees, who would determine whether to raise a notice of complaint.
Television footage appears to show MacLean grabbing Kouassi between the legs at a corner during the first half of the 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final defeat at Murrayfield.
Happy to confirm the beautiful game is still alive and well in Scotland pic.twitter.com/ALPNfj9s7E
— Saul Anderson (@SaulAnderson1) October 28, 2018
The Ivorian collapsed to the ground and both players were spoken to by referee Willie Collum, who had already booked MacLean inside the opening minute of the tie.
Such incidents were only deemed as yellow card violations in the past, with Anthony Stokes, who was then at Hibs, and Falkirk defender Aaron Muirhead being booked last season for similar offences.
However, acts directed towards a player’s private parts are now regarded as violent conduct, meaning the former St Johnstone player could face a two-game suspension.
MacLean is unlikely to face any punishment before Hearts host city rivals Hibs on Wednesday evening.
That would be a huge boost to manager Craig Levein following an injury-crisis in attack.
Uche Ikpeazu was recently ruled out for up to five months with a foot injury, while stand-in captain Steven Naismith was forced off eight minutes into Sunday’s defeat to Celtic with a knee problem and is a major doubt for tomorrow’s televised showdown.
MacLean attempted to play down the nature of the clash with Kouassi after the match, saying: “It was just a laugh, just a coming together.
“If I went down every time a centre-half niggled me, I would be on my backside all day. It was just handbags.”
Hearts travel to Celtic on Saturday before hosting Kilmarnock the following weekend.