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Finlayson handed lengthy ban for homophobic slur v Essendon

Jarred Cross -

Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson has been handed a three-game suspension for a homophobic slur directed at an Essendon player during Gather Round after being found guilty of breaching AFL conduct.

The league announced on Wednesday Finlayson breached ‘Conduct Unbecoming’ AFL rules with his comment “which demeans and denigrates persons regardless of their sexuality”. 

It’s the same rule that resulted in North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson being issued a $20,000 fine and a suspended two-game ban for a similar verbal matter levelled at St Kilda players, allowing him to continue gameday duties. 

On Monday, AFL chief executive forecast a harsher level of “accountability” for Finlayson, with resistance to “compare and contrast” the two incidents. 

“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."

Meade said without Finlayson’s admission of the incident and personal apology offered the sanction would have been longer. 

Finlayson is also required to attend Pride in Sport training as approved by the AFL at his own cost.

The Yorta Yorta man is ineligible to play in the Power’s next three outings and cannot appear at SANFL level for the club.

It comes after former NRL player and the only professional league or Australian Rules player to have come out while actively playing, Ian Roberts, told News Corp while Finlayson offered a public apology, he failed to extend it specifically to the community directly impacted.

“Up until now I have yet to hear Jeremy apologising to the queer community. He has apologised to the player involved but he hasn’t apologised to the community. It is a reference often used very specifically to attack gay men,” Roberts said, via the Herald Sun.

“I get that he understands it is wrong but he needs to apologise to the people who it is deeply offensive to. That word – people don’t say it, they spit it. When I am confronted with things like that, I tell people do you know what that word means? Did you have it in your head to degrade straight men? As a gay man, that word isn’t just meant to offend you, it’s meant to cut you. It is almost like the ‘N’ word.”

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