Tigers’ topless photo scandal ‘disgusting’
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.