Homophobic slurs have no place in footy


The AFL has been marred by an incident involving homophobic language when, during last Friday night’s clash against Essendon, Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson was picked up by an umpire mic calling another player a “f****t”. Finlayson expressed regret and apologised for the language.

Today, the AFL advised that Jeremy Finlayson has been found guilty of breaching AFL Rule 2.3(a) (Conduct Unbecoming) and has received a three-match suspension and is required to attend appropriate Pride in Sport training as approved by the AFL in which Finlayson will pay for personally.

Jason Ball, AFL Fans Association Patron and former amateur Aussie Rules footballer, who came out publicly in 2012, said, “Homophobic slurs like the one Finlayson used on Friday night are the reason I stayed in the closet as a young footballer.”

It follows an incident during a pre-season game in which North Melbourne Coach Alistair Clarkson used the phrase “c*********” directed at opposition players. This resulted in a $20,000 fine and a two-match ban, suspended for two years.   

“When I was a kid growing up playing football, homophobic language was constant, and it left me scared to be myself,” said Jason Ball, who has been outspoken about the impact of homophobic language on the sport since he first shared his story in 2012. “Homophobic language made me feel like I would never be accepted if my teammates found out I was gay. I felt like I had to choose between being myself and playing the game that I loved.”

“Being in the closet, second guessing everything I said or did out of fear they would find out, led me to some pretty dark places” Ball shared. He added: “It is no wonder to me that no male AFL player has felt comfortable to come out when incidents like this are still happening in 2024.”   

Jason acknowledged that Finlayson had apologised to both the Essendon player and the LGBTQ community and hopes to see proactive campaigns to stamp out homophobic language, whether on the field or in the stands, at the elite level and at the grassroots.

Ron Issko, President of the AFL Fans Association, said, " The AFLFA supports an inclusive environment where all fans, players and officials feel welcome. Whilst fans may have different views on an appropriate sanction for this incident, we seek consistency from the AFL in applying sanctions to players and officials while taking into account the individual circumstances of each incident.”

AFLFA membership is free, and fans are encouraged to join at www.aflfans.org.au

More information: Email: media@aflfans.org.au.