AFLPA slams double standards in Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson suspension for homophobic slur

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Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson has been suspended for three weeks by the AFL, as a result of his homophobic slur towards an Essendon player last Friday night.

However the ban, which follows North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson only being fined earlier this year for his own homophobic comment, has left the AFL Players’ Association frustrated.

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The key forward will be required to undertake relevant education through ‘Pride in Sport’ on the back of his misdemeanour, with the cost of the learning to come out of Finlayson’s own pocket.

“We believe the AFL is consistently inconsistent and there are double standards in its approach to dealing with players compared to others on behavioural matters,” AFLPA boss Paul Marsh said in a statement.

“This issue highlights the lack of clarity on 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 conduct is a three-week sanction for a player, it should be for everyone involved in the game and this should be clear to everyone in the industry upfront rather than the open-ended approach that is currently in place.”

The Herald Sun’s Lauren Wood, speaking on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle, explained what the AFL saw as the difference between the Clarkson and Finlayson slurs.

“First things first is the actual slur that was used, the actual word. Clarkson’s was probably not considered by those who were investigating to be as openly homophobic, whereas Finlayson’s was incredibly pointed, incredibly cutting, total no-go zone,” she said.

“Then they looked at the provocation. Finlayson was basically unprovoked, Clarkson’s situation, the environment was highly charged, he had St Kilda players coming at him (after the Jimmy Webster bump), he was going back at them.”

But she added, suggesting the league regretted not suspending Clarkson: “It’s safe to say at the moment the differences wouldn’t be as vast if the AFL had its time again.”

Jeremy Finlayson admits to homophobic slur

The league took into consideration Finlayson’s “immediate apology and contrition” when handing down their verdict.

Finlayson has been found guilty of breaching ‘Conduct Unbecoming’.

In their official statement, the AFL highlighted that without his “full and frank” admissions, his sanction would have been greater than the three weeks given.

Further on in the statement, the AFL made their stance on the matter crystal clear.

“The AFL is very clear that homophobia has no place in our game, nor in society. We want all people in LGBTQI+ communities to feel safe playing or attending our games and we know the incident that happened on the weekend does not assist this goal. As a code we will continue to work together to improve our game as a safe and inclusive environment for all,” the statement read.

“The AFL will continue to consider the specific circumstances in each incident in determining appropriate responses. Jeremy’s sanction would have been higher if he didn’t immediately understand and take ownership of his mistake both privately and publicly.”

The 28-year-old will miss matches against Fremantle, Collingwood and St Kilda as a result of his slur and will be available for selection in Port Adelaide’s Showdown with the Crows in Round 8.

Originally published as AFLPA angry as gap between sanctions for Finlayson, Clarkson explained

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