The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) last week fined an Italian team owner and one-time Gold Cup winner £30,000 for swearing at, threatening and spitting in the face of an umpire during the British Open Championship at Cowdray Park Polo Club on 15 July.

Italian banker Stefano Marsaglia, a zero-goal amateur player and patron of the Azzurra team, pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct, said David Woodd of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA).

Mr Woodd added: “There is no room in our sport for any sort of uncontrolled aggression.”

Marsaglia expressed regret at his 31 July hearing, and this was taken into consideration when the association banned him for 15 months. The ban will not start until June 2008 so he can play part of next season’s Queen’s Cup tournament and the British Open. The HPA had given Marsaglia a formal written warning about foul language on the polo ground in June last year.

The £30,000 fine is the maximum allowed under HPA rules. In 2004, Argentine professional Ernesto Trotz was fined £5,000 for hitting another player with his stick. In 2002, English pro Andrew Hine, then captain of England, was fined £2,000 for physically attacking a player after a match.

Mr Woodd admitted that the HPA tends to come down harder on offending team owners. English polo’s fines for misconduct and other rules infractions are much higher than those imposed upon competitors in other horse sports.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (9 August, ’07)