The AFL has been exposed this week as a hollow, hypocritical and unprincipled institution. It has displayed the behavior of your typical leftist with its eagerness to promote its virtue signaling on social justice issues, but when it comes to holding one of their own to account it would appear they are running a protection racket for their mates.
The sickening unprovoked coward punch by their diversity officer (a position which should not exist anyway) Ali Fahour that was revealed by the Herald Sun this week shocked everyone who saw it. It should have been an open and shut case for the AFL. Anybody who commits such a horrendous act has no place or standing promoting the game in the community or being put out as a role model.
But the silence of the AFL until today in not condemning the actions of Fahour and dismissing him from his role is nothing short of scandalous. Media commentators and anti-violence campaigners have been making the case repeatedly of why he should be sacked all. In the political sphere, there have also been calls for his sacking from both people on the right such as Jeff Kennett and also on the left such as Greens Leader Richard Di Natalie.
As the week unfolded more details of Fahour’s violent on field behaviour emerged including an off the ball strike earlier this season which saw him banned for three matches. There was also an incident way back in 2012 where he jumped the field to become involved in a spectator brawl, at the time he was defended by then AFL Andrew Demetriou. In the aftermath of these revelations still the AFL said nothing.
Then yesterday a few of his AFL mates come to his defence and try to rationalize his violent conduct. His West Preston teammate, former AFL player Patrick Karnezis told the Herald Sun we needed to understand the full context of the incident. Apparently Fahour was only coming to the defence of another teammate Ahmed Saad who had been targeted by opposition teams all year. So apparently the way to take a stand against teammate being targeted was to king hit a player?
He was also defended by Richmond player Bachar Houli who had recently been suspended himself for striking a player in the head. Fahour had given Houli a character reference which initially got his suspension reduced, it seemed that Houli want to return the favour to his Muslim mate this week as he wrote a glowing Facebook post about Fahour “Ali Fahour is a person of highest character, a person who has done so much for so many people and a person I would trust my life with. His a caring, humble, honest person who I would give anything to”.
Last night some form of justice finally prevailed with Fahour being handed a 14 match ban by the Northern Football League tribunal. Since Fahour has now been suspended for a total of more than 16 matches in his career this triggers a life ban from the league. Following the verdict, he subsequently resigned from his position as AFL Diversity Manager. Victoria Police have now confirmed they are opening an investigation into a potential assault charge.
The AFL broke its silence today with CEO Gillon McLachlan giving a press conference about the matter at AFL House. It can only be described as a weak statement, McLachlan was reading from a prepared sheet of paper and starting by saying “I’m not going to talk to (the specific incident) but as soon as I saw it, it was an incident that just can’t be tolerated” but still praised Fahour’s work for the AFL “we should not define a person by their worst moment”
He also defended the AFL’s handling of this episode claiming they wanted to respect the tribunal process. That is not good enough as the tribunal process only made a ruling about Fahour’s ability to play football, he was employed separately by the AFL to be its diversity manager and they could have sacked him from the position as soon as the video emerged.
The more likely reason is that the AFL was hoping the outrage over Fahour’s punch would blow over and they would be able to keep their mate in the role. There has already been talk he could return to a position with the AFL in the future. The whole episode should a public relations 101 lesson about how not to handle major scandal
In this regard, the AFL has behaved in typical leftist fashion, in the same manner as Sam Dastyari being untouchable and still having a leadership position in the ALP despite his links to Chinese government aligned businessmen, not to mention that the CFMEU is still affiliated with the ALP despite the threatening language of its Victorian Secretary John Setka, plus the findings against that union from the Royal Commission into Union Corruption.
Leftists always protect their own for as long as possible, all other principals get cast aside. The AFL now has zero creditability preaching to its fans on the community on social justice issues now. The AFL it seems needs a serious culture change, it has not changed at all under the leadership of Gillon McLauglin.
The AFL’s recent conduct in a number of matters has damaged its standing in the views of the public and has no one to blame but themselves. It is especially saddening for people like me who love AFL and have grown up with it to see the AFL as just a mates, jobs for the boys club.