AFL: Jeremy Finlayson cops three-match ban for homophobic slur

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Both Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson and club president David Koch issued “unreserved” apologies after the player accepted a three-match ban for a homophobic slur the AFL decreed was “hurtful and totally unacceptable”.

Umpire microphones picked up the “unprompted and highly offensive” homophobic slur Finlayson delivered to an Essendon opponent at Adelaide Oval.

Finlayson apologised once the remarks became public, using a word the AFL said “demeans and denigrates persons regardless of their sexuality”.

He was found guilty of breaching AFL Rule 2.3(a) (Conduct Unbecoming) and is required to attend appropriate Pride in Sport training as approved by the AFL that Finlayson will pay for personally.

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

After being handed the ban, Finlayson again conceded 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 AFL took into account Finlayson’s immediate apology and contrition, both privately on the night, publicly the next day and again on Monday, and without the full and frank admissions, apologies and contrition the sanction would have included a longer suspension.

“Everyone, including Jeremy understands the word he used is both hurtful and totally unacceptable in any setting, ever,” AFL general counsel Stephen Meade 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.”

All AFL and AFLW players and officials receive yearly education regarding vilification and the effects of such homophobic behaviour.

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