Tigers’ to­p­less photo scan­dal ‘dis­gust­ing’

The Australian - - THE NATION - RICHARD FER­GU­SON

The Vic­to­rian busi­ness­woman who was in­stru­men­tal in the birth of the AFL’s women’s league has la­belled Rich­mond FC’s leaked to­p­less photo scan­dal “dis­gust­ing” and called for play­ers to be bet­ter ed­u­cated on gen­der equal­ity.

Su­san Al­berti, the for­mer vi­cepres­i­dent of the West­ern Bull­dogs, told The Aus­tralian she knew about the to­p­less photo a week be­fore it ap­peared in news­pa­pers but she has strongly back­ing AFL chief ex­ec­u­tive Gil­lon McLach­lan and Rich­mond pres­i­dent Peggy O’Neal’s han­dling of the leak.

“It’s im­por­tant that this isn’t just brushed aside. ‘ Ho hum’. It’s not ‘ho hum’, it’s no laugh­ing mat­ter,” she said.

“We have to keep re­in­forc­ing with both our male and fe­male play­ers that this sort of be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able. We’ve worked really hard at my club to in­grain re­spect and re­spon­si­bil­ity but we’re not per­fect. We have to do more.”

A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way into how a pic­ture of the woman was cir­cu­lated. The player re­spon­si­ble could face up to two years’ jail un­der tough state sex­ting laws.

The pic­ture does not show the woman’s face.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice de­clined to dis­cuss any up­dates on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Re­ports yes­ter­day said the woman in the photo had con­sented to the pic­ture but did not con­sent to its be­ing shared.

The player al­legedly said he had deleted the image from his phone.

Mrs Al­berti said: “The first re­ac­tion I had when I saw the news was that I was dis­gusted, and I really feel for this young woman and her fam­ily. It’s un­ac­cept­able.”

Rich­mond FC says it is fully co­op­er­at­ing with the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The AFL In­tegrity Unit has also set up an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and is in con­tact with the woman, who is be­lieved to be “dis­traught” over the leak.

Ms Al­berti de­clined to com­ment on what ad­vice she would have for Ms O’Neal, the only fe­male pres­i­dent of an AFL club, but said, “I’m sure Peggy and the board are deal­ing with the mat­ter very se­ri­ously”.

She was also adamant in her sup­port for the sport­ing code’s chief, Mr McLach­lan, who has also re­cently had to deal with se­nior male staff at the foot­ball com­mis­sion leav­ing over in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ships with young women at the league.

“Gill really is do­ing his darnedest and he’s worked so hard to en­sure there’s greater re­spect for women in the in­dus­try; he’s been ter­rific,” Mrs Al­berti said.

AFL ad­min­is­tra­tors Si­mon Leth­lean and Richard Simkiss both left the cen­tral of­fice in July but Mr Leth­lean, who con­ducted an af­fair with a younger staffer while mar­ried, is spec­u­lated to be a fron­trun­ner in the search for a new chief ex­ec­u­tive of Colling­wood Foot­ball Club.

Su­san Al­berti

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