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Akermanis says media and footy can mix

01/06/2010 05:57:11 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs midfielder Jason Akermanis has been suspended by the club for two AFL matches following his controversial newspaper column urging gay players to remain silent.

And, after what has been described as a "self-imposed" three-week media ban, Akermanis will be able to continue with his newspaper, radio and television work.

However the club will insist on approving his views before they are aired - an arrangement the Bulldogs say was in place already, but which Akermanis ignored.

Akermanis said he was pleased with the outcome.

"I think it's a good outcome for everyone, the club and myself and that's what we do here, we're a very supportive group," he said.

Akermanis is currently nursing a hamstring injury which will keep him sidelined for one or two weeks.

His two-week AFL suspension will then come into effect, during which time he will line up with the club's VFL affiliate Williamstown.

There had been speculation that Akermanis would be given an ultimatum to choose between either playing for the `Dogs or continuing with his media commitments.

Akermanis, 33, said he believed he could do both without his on-field form - which has been poor this season - suffering.

On Tuesday the club confirmed in a statement that it would not be objecting to his media commitments after the three-week ban was served.

"We would like to stress at this time that despite reports, Jason's recent on-field performance and the issues relating to the publication of this article are two separate matters," the statement said.

"By no means has Jason's performance for the club had any impact on the decision the Western Bulldogs have reached today.

"The club wishes to make clear that it has been supportive of Jason's entitlement to maintain third party media arrangements.

"However, the club sought and obtained Jason's agreement before he entered any such contract that all written articles be first approved by the club.

"The reason we sought such a process was to ensure that no senior representative of our club would publish views which are contrary to the fundamental values of the club.

"The version of Jason's recent article which went to press did not follow this process. The club never saw the final version of this article until it was published.

"We wish to make it clear that had we seen this article, it would never have been approved."

Speaking on Melbourne radio station MTR earlier in the day, Akermanis said he was confident he could continue to combine media commitments with his AFL career.

"I can do this (radio) as well (as football), I can do columns, I've been doing that for years, there's nothing out of the ordinary there," he said.

"Getting my form back is all in front of me, I have to play a lot better than I have been."

The current Akermanis controversy stems from a column he wrote in Melbourne's Herald-Sun, in which he said gay AFL players should stay in the closet.

After a heated public reaction, Akermanis claimed the newspaper had altered his column, before eventually acknowledging it was his own work, an admission the club was angry he had not made earlier.

Akermanis joined the Bulldogs in late 2006, traded away by the Brisbane Lions after they also tired of his off-field controversies.

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