AFL comes out against Aker's gay stand - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL comes out against Aker's gay stand

20/05/2010 07:20:44 PM Comments (0)

AFL footballer Jason Akermanis's coach, Rodney Eade, says the player has wrongly given the impression that homophobia is rife in the code.

Akermanis wrote in his weekly Herald Sun column on Thursday that an openly gay player could make his teammates uncomfortable and coming out could "break the fabric of a club".

The Western Bulldogs forward wrote that if a gay player "was thinking of telling the world, my advice would be forget it".

Eade said some people would think AFL clubs were homophobic after reading the column and conceded Akermanis may have breached the AFL's vilification rules.

"Some of the comments ... Jason might like to clarify," Eade told reporters, after speaking at the launch of a report into homophobia in Australian sport.

He also backed Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos, who said the comments belonged in 1943, but said the club was not angry at Akermanis.

"It's not anger as such. I think some points there were okay, others probably misplaced and maybe poorly articulated," Eade said.

"No doubt about it, Paul's comments about 1943 and it being an archaic attitude.

"I think we've come a long way and the AFL actually lead the way in that aspect."

Akermanis said he wouldn't personally be uncomfortable with a gay player in his team and pointed out in his column that he played in Queensland with a gay player whom he thinks is "a terrific guy" and "tough and courageous".

"But some of the homoeroticism around football clubs ... what workplace would you be able to see 20 men nude all the time if you wanted to?" Akermanis later told the Nine Network.

"When you're slapping blokes on the bum and just having a bit of fun, what would that do to a man in there when you actually work out: `Oh wait a second, wait a second. I don't know if I can handle that guy'."

Swimmer Daniel Kowalski, a four-time Olympic medallist who last month publicly revealed he is gay, said Akermanis had abused his position as a newspaper columnist.

"I'm disappointed, I'm mad, I'm angry, I'm sad," Kowalski told Triple M Radio.

Akermanis' views were mostly rejected by AFL clubs and figures including AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, Sydney co-captain Adam Goodes, who recently took part in a campaign against homophobia, and other coaches and players.

However, West Coast Eagles footballer Daniel Kerr told Perth Radio 92.9 "but it would be weird having them in the change rooms when you are getting changed, that is for sure".

Demetriou said Akermanis' views were not representative of the game.

"Jason Akermanis is entitled to express his opinion, but I don't believe it reflects the views of clubs, players and officials involved in the AFL and the broader football community," Mr Demetriou said.

AFL Players Association general manager of culture and leadership, Pippa Grange, helped organise the association's current campaign against homophobia.

Dr Grange, a psychologist, said she did not like what was published, but "at least people are talking about it", and there was comment and debate.

"I think the emphasis on an individual coming out is passe. It's a totally personal choice and we don't need a poster boy," she told AAP.

"We think football players' environment should be safe, progressive, diverse and accepting of diversity.

"We want the players to own this, whether it's homophobia or violence against women."

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