Home Australia AFL Commission chairman defends league amid accusations of double standards over defamation punishments

AFL Commission chairman defends league amid accusations of double standards over defamation punishments

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A bald man in a dark blue suit and tie, speaking during a press conference.

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder has defended the league’s decision to suspend Jeremy Finlayson for uttering a homophobic slur after allowing Alastair Clarkson to continue coaching following a similar incident.

Port Adelaide forward Finlayson was suspended last week for three matches for comments directed at an Essendon player during the teams’ clash at Adelaide Oval on April 5.

In March, North Melbourne coach Clarkson was fined $20,000 and suspended for two matches for a similar insult hurled at St Kilda pair Dougal Howard and Jimmy Webster during a trial match.

The discrepancy between sanctions has come under heavy criticism, particularly from the AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA), which last week accused the league of applying double standards.

But Goyder took a different view.

AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder.(AAP: James Ross)

“I don’t think there’s a difference in the sense that the AFL has taken a very firm stance on that issue, and that stance is the most important thing,” Goyder told reporters on Monday.

“We will see the shame… I hope this never happens again.

“If this happens again, we will consider a sanction appropriate to the circumstances.

“Both penalties were a very strong signal from the AFL that there is no place in our game for that type of action.”

Last week, Port Adelaide president David Koch said he hoped the league would “apply consistency to these types of cases in the future”, while AFLPA chief Paul Marsh called for an “urgent review of the framework of AFL sanctions.

“We believe the AFL is consistently inconsistent and there are double standards in its approach to dealing with players compared to others on behavioral issues,” Marsh said.

“This issue highlights the lack of clarity around how the AFL handles these situations, and we want this to be the catalyst for an urgent review of the sanctioning framework.

“If this type of behavior is a three-week ban for one player, it should be for everyone involved in the game.

“This should be made clear to everyone in the industry from the start, rather than the open approach that currently exists.”

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