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AFL, Blues are all a'Twitter

Penalised: Brock McLean.

Penalised: Brock McLean. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

THE Carlton Football Club does not have a proud history when it comes to handling player behaviour, but in the case of Brock McLean and his misguided tweet, the Blues were absolutely right in refusing to suspend him.

Almost eight hours of tense negotiations flowed between head office and Visy Park yesterday.

The view of AFL football operations general manager Adrian Anderson and his team was that McLean's abusive tweet deserved the same penalty as the Western Bulldogs' Will Minson, a player accused of an obscene exchange in which he allegedly said he had forced himself upon Port Adelaide player Danyle Pearce's mother.

The view of the Blues' football boss, Andrew McKay, and club chief executive Greg Swann was that McLean deserved a fine of up to $2500. They placed his misdemeanour on a par with his three teammates who criticised the umpires in the recent West Coast win over the Blues.

In fact, the club challenged the AFL to suspend McLean, refusing to cave in. They were told he could be forced to front the tribunal. Surely either of the above would have been a savage case of overkill.

''It just wasn't right in our view,'' said Swann. ''We felt it deserved a fine of $2000, $2500, and we've spoken to McLean and we've told him not to do anything like that again.

''We weren't going to suspend him. He was completely honest about what he'd done and he removed the comment quickly and he apologised. In the end we've put an end to it and he can train and move on from this.''

Swann agreed that McLean had been ''living on the edge'' where his social media behaviour had been concerned, and that he had been spoken to previously by the club. He also agreed than any suspended match penalty made sense because ''if he did something like this again he deserves to be suspended''.

The AFL view last night was that McLean was extremely lucky. A terse Anderson made that clear.

It is certainly true that Carlton footballers can now be classed as repeat offenders where tweeting is concerned. The Blues, who must now work with McLean and the AFL's respect and responsibility officer, Sue Clark, in an education program, should surely take a look at themselves and their players' tendency to tweet first and think later.

But even the $5000 fine, agreed to last night, seems heavy-handed. McLean did not threaten or imply sexual assault. Surely his stupid retort to a question about whether or not he had been delisted - ''No, your mum has given me aids'' - was just simply stupid.

There was no sensitivity regarding the anonymous tweeter's mother, and surely no one suffering from AIDS would have taken serious offence.

Certainly there was no suggestion of sexual assault or harassment or bullying, as Port Adelaide suggested of Minson - a suggestion Minson denied but chose not to challenge at the tribunal.

And the fine doubled those of the umpire comments - a complete no-go area where the AFL is concerned.

Perhaps the AFL still regrets - as it should - not overruling Adelaide two years ago when former Crow Nathan Bock was only suspended for a week after being charged with assault when he poured a drink over, and hit - with an open hand, his girlfriend.

The good news for McLean is that - and this should not have mitigated his penalty - his career stood a better chance last night than it did early yesterday.

He will play tomorrow night against Hawthorn and every senior game provides him with the chance to win another season.

Which perhaps is one reason why his social media behaviour has been so angry. Perhaps the Blues feel vaguely responsible that they did not come down on him harder, and sooner. But not with a one-match suspension. That would have been embarrassing.

51 comments

  • So all women should apparently be offended by what Minson said in a one-on-one conversation on the field (even though we don't know what he actually said), but 'surely no one suffering from AIDS' should be offended by what McLean said in a very public domain (and we all know what he said)?
    I find the AFL administration, the AFL clubs and several media commentators ridiculously inconsistent with their judgements - shouldn't all disrespectful actions be treated equally, regardless of the target?

    Commenter
    Lissy
    Location
    Point Cook
    Date and time
    June 28, 2012, 8:17AM
    • You are correct in what you say but it depends which club you play for Lissy. Caroline's view would have been very different if the player in question came from......

      Commenter
      Gilly
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 8:34AM
    • Please enlighten me, Caroline. How many AIDS sufferers did you consult before dismissing their potential concerns? What a ridiculous assertion. You are happy to set yourself up as a moral arbiter of the game when it suits you. Discussion of an appropriate penalty does not require such a dismissive attitude to the unfortunate sufferers of an appalling disease. Perhaps you would be better suited at the small paper.

      Commenter
      Rational Bomber
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 12:21PM
    • Absolutely,
      the fact that Carlton chose to treat McLean's offence with a lesser penalty than the Bulldogs chose to hand down to Minson is disappointing but that you Caroline agree with this is astounding.
      After all the publicity that the Minson comment caused, as well as the publicity from Carlton player's tweets the week before there is no excuse that McLean knows both that comments about mothers and AIDS are offensive and tweets are public.
      Yet he chose to cause offence in a public domain - using a comment that is offensive to women and to people who are living with HIV.
      After reading the article I am at a loss Caroline as to why you think this case should be treated so differently to the Minson case. The issues are the same except as Lissy points out one occurred on the footy field with no evidence and one in cyber space with a public record.
      Carlton can choose to not impose a suspension whilst the Bulldogs acted swiftly and strongly in setting a standard for their players - I question Caroline which approach is best suited to the treatment of women in football in the longer term and why you chose to support the club not acting with the firm and decisive action that is required to ensure women are treated with equality and respect in the AFL.

      Commenter
      Michelle
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 1:24PM
    • Ah yes. Hysteria reigns in its many shapes and forms. Refugee boats sink. Resources for schools, hospitals go begging. Wars and innocents dying in Syria, Africa. But Brock hits the perfect storm with a combined AIDS-mother joke.

      That this is an issue when we know more than any other time in our human existence of the real issues in the world, is staggering.

      Yes there is a time for leisure and of course watching and discussing footy is important to people. But people getting so offended by Brock is entirely pathetic.

      Commenter
      Captain Courageous
      Location
      Goal Square
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 1:50PM
  • "and surely no one suffering from AIDS would have taken serious offence" ...seriously Caro, you're kidding aren't you... or did you ask them all?

    Commenter
    the-snaffler
    Date and time
    June 28, 2012, 8:31AM
    • Exactly! That was a ludicrously dumb comment to make and to speak for those living with HIV/AIDS. If he'd written 'you mother has breast cancer', would you have blatantly claimed that no woman with breast cancer would have been offended?

      Commenter
      Troy
      Location
      CBD
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 9:22AM
    • He didn't mention breast cancer though so why create a hypothetical. Does this incident really require an inquiry or a deconstruction of some underlying issue? A young man made a stupid remark. This has now cost him $1000's of dollars. Imagine if every young man in Australia was publicly 'named & shamed', fined or denied the right to work based on silly comments...maybe we need to look deeper in why so many in the 'public' deem footballers justifiably punishable for every misdemeanor...

      Commenter
      Terry
      Location
      Mooroopna
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 10:36AM
  • How ridiculous! So 90% of footy players can be rude, obnoxious, perverted, “better than the average person”, “too good for you” in person and treat females appallingly yet it never makes the papers or the news? Brock has a JOKE on his Twitter page and is treated like he’s sexually harassed someone? Lets hang him for having a life outside of football! WOW AFL... Get some perspective. Brock is by FAR the nicest, most down to earth footy player I have met... What a joke!

    Commenter
    AB
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    June 28, 2012, 8:39AM
    • AB the public love a good rant. The AFL always draws an attack. Brock has been fined about 1.25% of his annual salary ( = $750-1000 to the average punter...not cheap) and on top of that there are 'cries' for a week's suspension from work by many 'outraged' citizens (even more lost income). For a guy on professional thin ice ( in football playing/contract terms) this is pretty heavy considering his career in a niche environment would be put in serious jeopardy. I always wonder whether people consider these things before they vent loudly for furious retribution and demand draconian punishment on these forums? Would they wish for a large fine and/or suspension from work for their brothers, cousins, partners, sons etc if it was them making an immature and stupid comment on twitter? Unlikely. Brock is a 'footballer'. Well paid, highly visible and therefore 'fair game' for the lesser paid, lesser acknowledged, 9-5 grinding masses of resentment. Sack him, fine him, suspend him; hang, drawer and quarter him....!!!! How dare he make a mistake. 'How dare he offend a particular group and make me morally outraged on behalf of others'. Stupid footballers...stupid AFL.... booo hissss....

      Commenter
      Ludwig
      Location
      Barry Island
      Date and time
      June 28, 2012, 11:39AM

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