Jeremy Finlayson suspended for three games by AFL over homophobic slur

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The AFL have handed Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson a three-week suspension after he aimed a homophobic slur at an Essendon opponent.

An investigation into the incident was wrapped up on Wednesday with the Power forward set to be out of action for three matches.

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Finlayson will be required to attend training over the incident, which will be paid for out of his own pocket. He did not cop a monetary fine.

The AFL issued a statement noting the punishment and the training the Power forward will be required to undertake.

“The AFL wishes to advise that Port Adelaide player Jeremy Finlayson has been found guilty of breaching AFL Rule 2.3(a) (Conduct Unbecoming) in relation to an incident during the third quarter of Friday’s nights match against Essendon,” the statement read.

“Finlayson used an unprompted and highly offensive homophobic slur against an Essendon opponent, which demeans and denigrates persons regardless of their sexuality.

“Finlayson has received a three-match suspension and is required to attend appropriate Pride in Sport training as approved by the AFL in which Finlayson will pay for personally.

“He will not be eligible to play for Port Adelaide during Round 5, 6 and 7, including playing in the SANFL.

“In determining the sanction, the AFL took into account Finlayson’s immediate apology and contrition, both privately on the night, publicly the next day and again on Monday. To be clear, without the full and frank admissions, apologies and contrition that Finlayson showed, the sanction would have included a longer suspension.”

AFL General Counsel Stephen Meade said Finlayson knows the slur he used was unacceptable and had accepted the punishment handed down.

“Everyone, including Jeremy understands the word he used is both hurtful and totally unacceptable in any setting, ever,” he said.

“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 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.”

After being handed the ban, Finlayson conceded again his behaviour was unacceptable.

“The word I used has no place in our society or our game,” Finlayson said.

“Words can be very hurtful and what I said on Friday night was totally unacceptable.

“I unreservedly apologise again to the Essendon player, my teammates, Port Adelaide members and supporters and the LGBTQIA+ community for the distress I have caused.

“I accept the AFL’s sanction and now look forward to reflecting on my behaviour and seeking education to improve myself and understand the impact such comments can have on the broader community.”

Port president Koch apologised to both Essendon and the Port Adelaide community of members and supporters and the LGBTQIA+ community.

“On behalf of the Port Adelaide Football Club, I extend an apology to the Essendon player, the Port Adelaide community of members and supporters and the LGBTQIA+ community,” Mr Koch said.

“What was said is totally unacceptable and comments of this nature do not align with what our club stands for. Port Adelaide is a place for everyone so we are very disappointed with what occurred on Friday night.

“Importantly, Jeremy self-reported and apologised to the player on the night and has publicly expressed his remorse.

“We will now provide education for Jeremy and offer him and his family support during this time.

“We do not underestimate the seriousness of this matter and look forward to the AFL applying consistency to such cases in the future.”

The 28-year-old will miss matches against Fremantle, Collingwood and St Kilda. He will be available for selection for the Showdown against the Adelaide Crows in Round 8.

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