PERSIJA Jakarta striker Marko Simic will start against the Newcastle Jets in tonight’s Asian Champions League qualifier despite being a accused of indecently assaulting a female passenger on a flight from Bali.
Simic, the 31-year-old attacker for Indonesia's most successful football club Persija Jakarta, was in court just hours before he is due to take on the Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The Herald understands that Asian Football Confederation were made aware of the charges but the player was cleared to play in the sudden-death clash.
Simic, from Croatia, was arrested by Australian Federal Police upon his arrival into Sydney Airport on Sunday, after an alleged act of indecency without consent against a female passenger on a flight from Bali.
The striker was initially held in Sydney, but joined his teammates for a training session at McDonald Jones Stadium on Monday night.
He returned to Sydney for a court appearance on Tuesday morning.
The 31-year-old was travelling to Sydney with his teammates from Persija Jakarta for a knock-out game against the Newcastle Jets.
It is understood a female passenger on the flight made a complaint to cabin crew that she had allegedly experienced unwanted touching by Mr Simic.
A report was filed by the flight crew to alert authorities on the ground and AFP officers were waiting at Sydney Airport for the plane's arrival.
He was arrested and taken to Botany Bay police station where he was charged with one count of committing an act of indecency without consent and one count of common assault on board an overseas flight, before he was released on conditional bail.
On Tuesday Mr Simic appeared at the Downing Centre Local, dressed in a black tracksuit and white and silver sneakers.
He was accompanied by his lawyer Robert Haralovic, who described his client's situation as "unenviable, to say the least."
"My client is a professional football player...he is playing tonight against Newcastle, in Newcastle. He arrived in Sydney on Sunday...he has been arrested, he's here with the [Persjia Jakarta] team," he told the court.
"There is a limited visa, this is a first time visit [to Australia]...he is a Croation national."
Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson acknowledged Mr Simic "had to get up [to Newcastle] for his match," but said she had to manage the criminal charges "like any other matter.".
"I can put it over for a week...but it can't be done in a few days."
Ms Atkinson said it would take time for the Commonwealth to determine if Mr Simic's matter would remain in the Local Court, or if it would be transferred to the District Court, adding that any visa issues faced by the football player would be dealt with.
Mr Simic is next scheduled to appear before the Downing Centre Local Court on April 9.
A representative from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia also attended the court appearance on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the consulate said the matter was a personal issue for Mr Simic and had nothing to do with the Consulate General, or Indonesia, adding that the representative only was only present because the Croation was playing the Persija Jakarta.
Mr Simic left the Downing Centre in a taxi with his lawyer shortly before 11.30am, still giving him time to travel back to Newcastle ahead of a 7pm kick-off.
It is unknown if the striker will take the field on Tuesday. Persija Jakarta has been contacted for comment.
The 31-year-old is one of five foreign players for the Jakarta team. Last year Persija Jakarta won Indonesia's highest division competition, the Indonesian Liga 1, in its first victory in the competition since 2001.
The team will play the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium at 7pm on Tuesday, with the winner to progress to the play-off round to face reigning AFC Champions League champions, Kashima Antlers.
- With the Sydney Morning Herald