One of Port Adelaide's sponsors has been embroiled in a controversy over homophobic comments. Photo: Getty Images
The AFL has condemned a homophobic slur by one of Port Adelaide’s corporate sponsors, but the league’s offer of counselling with a prominent activist has been deemed unnecessary by the club.
Rather than sever ties with Greg Evangelou, the owner of White Marquee Event Hire, Port’s CEO Keith Thomas denounced his offensive online post but is satisfied Evangelou is genuinely contrite.
Port has declined the AFL’s offer to engage Jason Ball – an anti-homophobia campaigner, gay Victorian footballer and beyondblue ambassador – to assist with the matter.
The Power only become aware in recent days of a comment Evangelou posted on Facebook, after the club lost to Adelaide last month, where he referred to Crows supporters as “faggots”.
In a reference to Adelaide’s fan base – which the Crows refer to as the “19th man” – Evangelou posted: “To all my fellow 19th faggots. Enjoy today like you’ve won a grand final ... because that’s about as good as its going to get for yas for a very long time.”
Evangelou’s business is one of Port Adelaide’s principal partners and listed on the club’s website in the same tier as sponsors Coca-Cola, Fuji Xerox, Channel 7 and Roh Wheels. It’s understood there are financial and contra components to the corporate relationship.
The AFL told Fairfax on Thursday it was involved in the matter and was treating it “seriously”.
“We will work with the club to ensure this individual understands the harm caused by these types of comments and why they are totally unacceptable,” corporate affairs boss James Tonkin said.
“The AFL rejects all forms of vilification and treats this matter seriously.”
Thomas, however, deemed his personal dealings with Evangelou had been sufficient.
“The club has spoken to Greg about his post and counselled him on the harm these types of comments can cause,” Thomas said.
“We are satisfied that Greg understands his wrongdoing and is extremely regretful for the post. He promptly sent me a letter of apology and personally assured me that he has learnt from his mistake.
“We appreciate the AFL offering us extra counselling for Greg, but as it stands we are very confident that the counselling he received from the club on Monday will ensure this won’t happen again.”
Evangelou, who has been a sponsor of Port Adelaide for nearly four years, has removed his Facebook post.
In 2012 Melbourne cut ties with its then major sponsor, EnergyWatch, after the company’s former CEO Ben Polis posted racist and sexist remarks on Facebook. The sponsorship deal was worth an estimated $2million to the Demons.