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AFL players blow the whistle


Caroline Wilson

Andrew Demetriou has reiterated his determination that players and club officials take ownership in the protection of their code.

Andrew Demetriou has reiterated his determination that players and club officials take ownership in the protection of their code. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

TWO AFL players have stepped forward and ''blown the whistle'', complaining to the AFL of irregular practices at their clubs.

The players are the first to respond to the competition's whistleblower policy, first mooted after the Essendon scandal and the Australian Crime Commission's disturbing findings into match fixing and drug cheating in sport.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou revealed the move by the two players, which took place in recent weeks. But he refused to detail their information or their chosen source.

''Since the ACC findings a couple of players have already come forward,'' Demetriou said. ''They both said: 'I wanted to come forward before but I didn't'.''

The move comes despite doubts raised by past and present players over whether footballers would be prepared to break ranks and dob in teammates or club officials to protect the integrity of their sport.

Demetriou described as ''garbage'' the anti-dobbing culture and pointed to the Essendon scenario to support his point.

''It's garbage,'' he said. ''It's not the 1960s or the 1970s. We're talking about potential funding cuts, millions of dollars in lost sponsorship, brand damage and potential litigation against board members - that's to use the analogy of what's happening at Essendon at the moment.

''If that situation is not a wake-up call, I'm not sure what is, and to their credit the clubs seem to understand that. All the rule changes we announced are in train.

''The whistleblower service will protect individuals who come forward, guarantee confidentiality and offer reduced sanctions to those who put their hands up and, in some cases, no sanctions.''

Demetriou has reiterated his determination that players and club officials take ownership in the protection of their code in his briefing with 15 of the 18 AFL clubs to date.

AFL Players Association boss Matt Finnis has held his own meetings with playing groups around Australia. Finnis has acted in close consultation with senior Victoria policeman and match review panellist Emmett Dunne in a bid to create a safe environment for players with concerns.

''The policy is the easy part,'' said Finnis.

''It is imperative that a player has a positive experience and I've been in close consultation with the AFL's [league investigator] Brett Clothier in this.

''My message to the players has been that if something is a threat to our sport and a threat to our livelihood we must act.

''If they're not comfortable with who they should go to I've advised them to come to the players' association as well.''

Said Demetriou: ''This is a broader issue of integrity and internal methods at football clubs. The days of not speaking up if you know of your club or teammate cheating or breaking the rules are over.''

While Demetriou said several clubs had proved difficult to deal with regarding investigations, he agreed the Kangaroos had not handled the Lachie Hansen investigation appropriately.

The view is that Clothier and his former boss Adrian Anderson were unable to gather sufficient evidence that the Kangaroos may have sent a concussed player back onto the ground.

''I'm sure North Melbourne are not the only ones to have adopted that practice,'' said Demetriou. ''But the reason that investigation took so long is that the investigators were being continually frustrated by witnesses cancelling appointments or not turning up or changing their version of events. We would hope that would not happen again.''


  • This has been happening on your watch Andrew. It's time to pull your head out of the sand and leave. A new broom sweeps clean!

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 8:59AM
    • I'll believe it when I see it. Just Vlad trying to show that he has woken up

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 9:02AM
      • I wonder when the AFL will realise Demetriou's time is up. His administration is becoming very frayed around the edges. That Hamish bloke is now the front man - and he's a joke. Demetriou should be answering the hard questions. All these current problems have happened on his watch, they had their beginnings as he came up thru the ranks - as CEO he has not had his finger on the pulse, failed to take strong action, and many times appeared to have had his head buried in the sand. He is guilty of gross negligence - failing to acknowledge the damage drugs, & organised gambling would do to his sport.
        And....last weeks penalties re' MFC & tanking were absolutely ridiculous !!!!!.

        Date and time
        March 01, 2013, 9:06AM
        • Beautifully said, Glen. I am gathering Jeff Kennetts comment a few days is correct. Demetriou needs to go.

          Date and time
          March 01, 2013, 3:29PM
      • Demetriou has to go. I think he is fishing, I don't believe any player would do what he has claimed. KB has to go too, he is looking more foolish everyday. No cap on the interchange.

        Date and time
        March 01, 2013, 9:07AM
        • Mmmmm. Not sure of the psychology of telling this tight knit group of athletes that disclosure might reduce sanctions or even eliminate them. What is the incentive there? Clearly none. This statement is designed to shut people up. Not the other way round.
          Look at the cycling. Those guys were often from many different countries and backgrounds. Yet they had to be caught red handed and dragged through courts to spill the beans on their team mates. No, the culture in AFL is far too closed for any such action. These comments with implied sanctions will enforce that. The AFL are smart operators. And for the good of the game it is important that there is no drip feed of allegations.

          Date and time
          March 01, 2013, 9:12AM
          • Nicely put Andy.
            A lot of people here pointing the finger at Demetriou, but the reality is that this is something that is pretty well rife amongst most professional sports.
            I'd be more surprised if PEDs weren't used in the AFL...

            Kyushu, Japan
            Date and time
            March 01, 2013, 10:26AM
        • Whistleblowiing in Oz! - the fraudsters do criminals things, good citizens try to point out there are problems and are usually ignored because the fraudsters are usually high-status figures in the organisation - THE OUTCOME - honest people trying to point out wrongdoings are more often than not vilified and ostracised - even with whisteblowing legistlation in place! Go figure!!!

          Date and time
          March 01, 2013, 9:53AM
          • Any sport found guilty of drugs etc should have government funding pulled immediately. Why should I as a taxpayer have to fund drugs behaviour in ANY sport. And I am not just talking this government, ANY government elected in Australia.

            Date and time
            March 01, 2013, 9:58AM
            • Why does a select few have to ruin it for the rest of the players who are doing the right thing?

              I agree that they should pay tax on scholarships but not have funding removed.

              Date and time
              March 01, 2013, 12:14PM

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