For months now Australia’s two largest football codes have been racked with accusations of ‘sexual misconduct’. Let’s call it for what it is – rape! The saga started back in February when several players from the Sydney based Rugby League club the Cantebury Bulldogs, on a training weekend in Coff’s Harbour invited a woman back to the team hotel on the last night. The woman claims she was gang-raped and assaulted by the hotel pool.
A few weeks later, the other major code, the Aussie Rules AFL was rocked by a scandal of it’s own. Two players from the Melbourne based St Kilda club were accused of being involved in a rape. Reportedly a woman went back to the house of one of the players and consented to having sex with him. Apparently her accusation is that the other player then had sex with her without her consent.
In the meantime, one of the AFL’s high profile players, Essendon captain James Hird caused a stir by describing the umpiring of the teams weekend match as ‘disgraceful’ and naming an umpire with whom the club had felt badly done by for quite some time. It was reported at the time that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou’s staff said they had never seen him so angry. The AFL threatened to cancel or suspend Hird’s players licence. In the end he narrowly missed this punishment but was instead fined $20,000.
This morning we read in Melbourne’s broadsheet daily (The Age) that the case against the Bulldogs players has been dropped due to lack of evidence.
I am sickened by the reported comments of Cantebury Bulldogs chief Malcolm Noad (The Age 28/4/04). “Let’s believe that nothing happened in Coff’s Harbour.” It was a “true vindication” and reportedly he said he was proud of his players.
Have the Bulldogs learnt nothing from this sad affair? Nothing happened? From all accounts the players took a woman back to their hotel in clear breach of their code of conduct and apparently they do not deny that several of them proceeded to have sex with the woman that night. That’s the sort of conduct that gives Mr Noad reason to be proud of his players? That’s it for league for me.
The AFL front doesn’t give much cause for encouragement either. We have an AFL player fined $20,000, narrowly missing derigistration and reportedly causing more anger than ever before in the AFL chief executive – all for a few mis chosen words. At the same time two more players have been accused of rape. Well ho hum, that’s just what you would expect. Roll out the damage control.