Port’s Finlayson suspended for homophobic slur

Oliver Caffrey |

Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson has copped a three-game AFL ban.
Port Adelaide’s Jeremy Finlayson has copped a three-game AFL ban.

Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson has become the first AFL player suspended for using a homophobic slur after accepting a three-game ban.

The AFL deemed Finlayson used an “unprompted and highly offensive” remark against an unnamed Essendon player during the third quarter of the Power’s 69-point thumping of the Bombers on Friday night.

As well as missing three games, Finlayson will be required to attend a Pride In Sport training program that he will have to pay for himself.

In determining the sanction, the AFL took into account the 28-year-old apologising and owning up to his mistake the following day.

“Everyone, including Jeremy, understands the word he used is both hurtful and totally unacceptable in any setting, ever,” AFL general counsel Stephen Meade said.

“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.

“Jeremy’s sanction would have been higher if he didn’t immediately understand and take ownership of his mistake both privately and publicly.”

Jayden Laverde and Jeremy Finlayson.
Jeremy Finlayson (right) in action during the Power’s thrashing of Essendon in Gather Round. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

Port Adelaide immediately confirmed they had accepted the outcome of the AFL’s investigation.

Finlayson’s suspension comes just over a month after North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was fined $20,000 and handed a suspended two-match ban for allegedly using a different homophobic slur at St Kilda defenders Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard during a pre-season game.

Back in 2012, St Kilda forward Stephen Milne was fined $3000 by the Saints, not the AFL, for making a homophobic remark against Collingwood’s Heritier Lumumba, who was known at the time as Harry O’Brien.

In 2022, the NRL suspended Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya for four matches after he directed a homophobic slur at North Queensland star Kyle Feldt.

Finlayson is the first player to be suspended by the AFL for using a homophobic remark and will miss crucial games against Fremantle, Collingwood and St Kilda.

It has prompted the AFL Players Association to come out swinging against the league.

AFLPA boss Paul Marsh has called for an “urgent review of the AFL’s sanctioning framework”, already raising it with league chief executive Andrew Dillon.

“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 and this should be clear to everyone in the industry up-front, rather than the open-ended approach that is currently in place.”

Finlayson has apologised for the second time, and Port president David Koch said the comments were unacceptable and “do not align with what our club stands for”.

“We will now provide education for Jeremy and offer him and his family support during this time,” Koch said.

“We do not underestimate the seriousness of this matter and look forward to the AFL applying consistency to such cases in the future.”

Port’s AFLW coach Lauren Arnell and some players in the women’s squad are members of the LGBTQI community.

“We engaged our AFLW group really early in this process,” Port football boss Chris Davies told reporters on Wednesday.

“But I’m interested in (how) the natural reaction has gone towards the AFLW group. 

“We’re in a situation where there has been no openly gay player in the men’s competition. 

“This is a broader issue than just thinking about the AFLW players, although they are a significant part of our club. 

“Our AFLW players are supportive of the fact that Jeremy has owned up and he has taken responsibility for what he has done.”