Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Is the AFL bringing its own game into disrepute?

I didn’t watch any of the Dean Robinson interview on Channel 7.


Dean Robinson deserves natural justice and the courts are the place for him to challenge his suspension and claims made by the Essendon Football Club against him.


Dean Robinson chose to end his employment on suspended full pay prior to the findings of the ASADA investigation, his choice. 


However, as soon as it was discovered Robinson was being paid a large sum of money by the official AFL Broadcaster Channel 7 I boycotted the interview. If Robinson hadn’t been stood down under full pay the payment for the interview would be understandable.


I have since read parts of the interview transcript on the AFL’s own website that pertain to his allegations against Essendon coach James Hird. I can read and hear the fallout uncoloured from seeing the Ch 7 TV special.


No matter who you believe this interview has brought the game into further disrepute.


The scrutiny on the AFL, clubs and players is immense. The media are doing their job in the main reporting on events and newsworthy claims.


I certainly do not blame Channel 7 for paying for another scandal ridden instalment in the soap opera that has become the Essendon ASADA investigation. However, the credibility of a paid interview in a “he said she said” type expose is low.


Nothing is proven.


The AFL sporting public are no doubt hooked on this story and eagerly await or dread the next development.


Depending on your allegiance the Robinson interview added more fuel to the fire and heat on James Hird or reaffirmed your belief that the high profile Essendon coach is an easy target.


Either way it’s a bad look for the game. The media attention the AFL crave and seek have lapped it up and made the entire ASADA investigation a tabloid circus.


That the AFL website carried an article on Robinson’s interview transcript only adds to the damage to the image of AFL. What are they doing?


Essendon according to the AFL self reported to ASADA and the AFL to conduct a joint investigation into the 2012 season.


The AFL doesn’t appear to respect its own investigation nor be concerned about the damage to the game by publishing unproven allegations that it must know further damage the image of the game.


The AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou says it will not give a running commentary on the ASADA investigation yet its own website does just that reporting on what Robinson said and Hird in reply.


If ASADA clear Essendon players or offer no fault type penalties, the AFL it is reported still wants to severely punish Essendon for the reported practices within the High Performance Unit of the club in 2012. A unit headed by Dean Robinson.


The ‘Ziggy’ report into Essendon’s governance uncovered other gaps in processes and authority lines.


There is no doubt consideration must be given to correct these practices and appropriate penalties handed out to EFC such as a big fine.


The charge of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ is much more complex. Just how much the game has been damaged is a product of the media coverage.


There is no escaping media scrutiny however when the AFL itself actively participates it plays a dangerous hypocritical game. I wonder now with Paul Little at the helm if EFC will allow the AFL to cripple with the club with severe punishments given these circumstances.


A prime example of the AFL’s own malfeasance.


When Andrew Demetriou said on 3AW back in April 2013 that James Hird would have to be considering standing down, this was widely understood to mean this is what Demetriou thinks should happen.


Demetriou could have batted it away with a no comment, but instead added that he has inside information about James Hird.


Demetriou knew the question on should Hird stand down was coming. As the AFL CEO he chose to answer it thus intensifying the pressure on Hird when the investigation was nowhere near complete.


Not long after Demetriou publically went quiet on his thoughts about James Hird.  The timing was around James Hird’s ASADA interview that we now know included Hird’s statement that the AFL CEO Demetriou tipped off Essendon about the ACC report.


The AFL will not sanction itself for bringing the game into disrepute. 

However, I would caution the AFL to appropriately sanction Essendon for its part in this sorry saga without the mayonnaise laid on by the media and the AFL itself.




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