By David Woods

30th Jun, 2020 | 4:14pm

'Cowardly' – Exclusive: Keith Hackett slams Mitrovic, claims FA should go further than ban

Dave Woods talking exclusively to former Premier League referee Keith Hackett…

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett has said that Aleksandar Mitrovic’s elbow on Ben White early on in the game at Elland Road on Saturday was a “cowardly act” and that the FA should impose a fine as well as a ban. 

Mitrovic has now been suspended but the three-game ban stopped short of what some Leeds fans were expecting, after his prior history of violent conduct.

However, he will be a big miss for Fulham as they try to put together their promotion push after two successive losses.

Talking exclusively to MOT Leeds News Hackett said, “I saw the incident and I thought it was a red card, the body language and everything else said that’s red.

“The referee didn’t have the best view and neither does he have VAR. We criticise it but generally this weekend it’s operated very well. In the Championship we don’t have it and I think there’s always a higher level of intensity in the Championship especially at the top. I would be pushing for VAR in the Championship if I was in charge.

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“On this occasion there’s no doubt that Mitrovic should have been dismissed, it was a clear act. I would also add a substantial fine to the ban – it is a cowardly act that doesn’t have any place on a football field. He used his elbow as a weapon.

“I think he set himself, when you look at a player jumping for the ball, maybe the arm might be elevated. What the referee needs to look out for is whether the player is challenging for the ball fairly. Clearly, what he has done is come out with his arm, with the intention, in my opinion, to go after his opponent and make himself known.

“You cannot do that, players have to recognise they have a duty of care towards their opponent. This is a game and yes, it’s high-level and everything that goes with it but they still have a responsibility for their own individual behaviour and for the safety of their colleagues.”

We couldn’t agree more with what Hackett has said.

It was a cowardly act that went unpunished by the referee but not by the Leeds United players. They did it the right way, though, marking Mitrovic out of the game and not looking to retaliate.

Ben White has to be praised for this. He’s still young and he will have known exactly what Mitrovic did.

His composure for the following 88.5 minutes is an example to everyone in the game.

In other Leeds United news, Exclusive: Leeds ace could face disciplinary action for what he did during Fulham game – pundit