AFL policy targets off-field conduct - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL policy targets off-field conduct

By Roger Vaughan 06/03/2009 07:21:27 PM Comments (0)

The AFL will have the power to refer a serious off-field incident directly to the tribunal under their long-awaited individual conduct policy.

As part of the policy, they will set up an integrity services department to handle all aspects of security and investigations into matters such as off-field incidents and salary cap breaches.

The commission has finally approved the policy, which starts immediately and will deal with off-field incidents involving players, coaches and other officials.

It follows growing concern at the AFL about the effects of off-field misbehaviour on the image of the game.

The policy has been in development for about two years.

In a statement released late on Friday afternoon, the league said the policy would "reinforce the right of the AFL to deal with an incident of serious misconduct under rule 1.6 by referring any such matter to the AFL tribunal and not giving the club the right to first deal with the matter."

The most notorious episode in the last couple of years has been the saga surrounding Brownlow Medallist and self-confessed drug addict Ben Cousins.

The league suspended the former West Coast captain in late 2007 for bringing the game into disrepute and he is now making his comeback with Richmond.

But there have been a succession of incidents involving players around the league.

The policy puts the onus on clubs to deal with off-field incidents involving their players and officials, but also gives the league plenty of clout to step in if the AFL think intervention is necessary.

"Each person involved in the AFL game is in a privileged position," said league chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

"If you are part of the AFL, you are the focal point of Australia's only indigenous game and responsible and lawful conduct repays the trust, support and investment provided to clubs, players and the AFL by the competition's key stakeholders.

"The vast majority of more than 700 players behave impeccably, and make an outstanding contribution to their community and, for this policy to be successful, a whole of competition approach is essential covering boards, players, coaches, staff and the AFL."

The policy enshrines the AFL's right to deal with an incident if it does not feel a club has handled it "satisfactorily".

"This may include referring any such matter to the AFL tribunal for their consideration including the type of sanction deemed appropriate by the AFL tribunal in the circumstances," the league states.

Other key aspects of the policy include:

* formal and centralised reporting and recording of off-field incidents.

* amending the standard player contract to provide more definition of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour.

* providing examples of what might be defined as conduct unbecoming.

* putting the emphasis on individuals to take responsibility for their behaviour.

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