AFL chair backs 'strong stance' on Finlayson, Clarkson

AFL Commission chair Richard Goyder has defended the league's decision to suspend Jeremy Finlayson for uttering a homophobic slur after allowing Alastair Clarkson to continue coaching following a similar incident.

Port Adelaide forward Finlayson was last week hit with a three-match suspension for comments directed at an Essendon player during the teams' clash at Adelaide Oval on April 5.

In March, North Melbourne coach Clarkson was fined $20,000 and given a suspended two-match ban for a similar slur fired at St Kilda pair Dougal Howard and Jimmy Webster during a trial game.

The discrepancy between the penalties has been the subject of strong criticism, in particular from the AFL Players Association (AFLPA), which last week accused the league of double standards.

But Goyder took a different view.

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder.
Richard Goyder has defended the AFL's approach to recent disciplinary challenges.

"I don't think there's a difference in the sense that the AFL has taken a very strong stance on that issue - and that stance is the most important thing," Goyder told reporters on Monday.

"We'll look at the penalty ... hopefully this never happens again.

"If it does happen again, we'll look at an appropriate penalty under the circumstances.

"Both penalties were a very strong signal from the AFL that there's no place in our game for those sort of actions."

Last week, Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said he looked forward to the league "applying consistency to such cases in the future", while AFLPA boss Paul Marsh called for an "urgent review of the AFL's sanctioning framework".

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson.
Alastair Clarkson was allowed to continue coaching the Kangaroos after his pre-season outburst.

“We believe the AFL is consistently inconsistent and there are double standards in its approach to dealing with players compared to others on behavioural matters," Marsh said.

“This issue highlights the lack of clarity on how the AFL handles these situations, and we want this to be the catalyst for an urgent review of the sanctioning framework.

"If this type of conduct is a three-week sanction for a player, it should be for everyone involved in the game.

"This should be clear to everyone in the industry up-front, rather than the open-ended approach that is currently in place.''

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