AFL player Jeremy Finlayson accepts three-match ban after using ‘hurtful’ homophobic slur

The AFL player has accepted a ban. (Getty)

Australian Football League (AFL) player Jeremy Finlayson has accepted a three-match ban for using a homophobic slur which he admitted was “hurtful and totally unacceptable”.

Umpire microphones recorded the “unprompted and highly offensive” homophobic language Finlayson uttered towards an Essendon opponent at Adelaide Oval during a match with his team, Port Adelaide Football Club on 5 April.

Finlayson issued an apology over the homophobic comment, which the AFL said “demeans and denigrates persons regardless of their sexuality”.

After accepting the ban, Finlayson agreed that his behaviour was not acceptable. “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.”

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The athlete was found guilty of breaching AFL Rule 2.3(a) with the comment, and is also required to attend appropriate Pride in Sport Training as approved by the AFL, which he will also be made to fund personally.

It also means he will not be able to play for Port Adelaide during rounds five, six and seven, including playing in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL). 

Port Adelaide president Koch also issued an apology to the Essendon and the Port Adelaide community, as well as members and allies of the LGBTQ+ 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,” 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.”

AFL general counsel Stephen Meade added: “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.”