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Australian Footballer Akermanis Demoted for Homophobic Remarks

Australia's Western Bulldogs have decided to punish footballer Jason Akermanis by demoting him to the VFL for two weeks for remarks he made in a newspaper column telling gay players to stay in the closet because they wouldn't be welcome in the sport.

AFL.com reports: Akermanis  

"The club announced Akermanis' penalty after Tuesday's discussions with the veteran forward, who will serve it once he recovers from what could be a two-week hamstring injury. Akermanis accepted the sanction, saying: 'I have to take responsibility for everything I've done, and today is exactly that.  I think it's a good outcome for everyone at the club and myself - and that is what we do here; we are a very supportive group.  I can't really say what I expected except that we wanted an outcome that was mutually beneficial for everyone and I think that's exactly what's happened.' Akermanis will also step away from his media work for three weeks at his own instigation, though club general manager of football operations James Fantasia said Akermanis' teammates had asked him to 'reassess his priorities to the group'. 'Jason will suspend his media activities for three weeks in response to this request, and during that time, will consider whether his media and football activities have struck the appropriate balance,' he said. 'In consequence, the playing group and management of the club have unanimously supported Jason and will continue to do so going forward.'"

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Comments

  1. I can't say that I agree with his opinion, but it is just that - his opinion. Sanctions? What is that supposed to do. He'll still be the same person with the same belief until he has an experience that changes his mind. Quieting him won't solve anything. I prefer to know who my enemies (a harsh word for the situation) are rather than be attacked by surprise.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Jun 1, 2010 12:26:45 PM


  2. God forbid someone have an opinion.

    Posted by: taodon | Jun 1, 2010 12:32:58 PM


  3. Sometimes I just have to marvel at the stance some foreign nations and their culture take. It's really awe-inspiring ...

    Posted by: Rodney | Jun 1, 2010 12:47:22 PM


  4. @ jakeinlove: I agree with that. Sanctioning and punishing him for his opinions (as backward as they may be) is not the answer here. Because he still has those opinions. Now if he were to publish a sincere mea culpa stating he was indeed sorry for what he said and he's taking actions to broaden his understanding of the people around him, I would say that's enough. But to sanction him (and let's not forget it's only for two weeks) is just not the answer here.

    On the other hand, if he were to come out swinging with "death to the fags" then we'd reasses. But for now, I think sanctioning the man won't do anything but give the organization some good PR and him a chance to stop dodging eggs.

    Posted by: Stephen | Jun 1, 2010 12:55:38 PM


  5. Of course he was wrong to inflict harm on current and aspiring athletes with his remarks and of course he was appropriately punished for it. He's an employee. He can't say to the media every stupid thing that comes into his head about the sport that employs him.

    If you don't believe in anyone being right or decent or just polite, or if you don't think there should be consequences for not being right or decent or polite, at least be aware of the fact that there are consequences for being a lousy employee. Thankfully, there are instances in which being a jackass is punishable. Hopefully, being punished will help him to rethink his stupidity.

    Posted by: ohplease | Jun 1, 2010 1:14:40 PM


  6. I guess I just don't like the idea that he must be punished for having an opinion that some people (including myself) find pretty abhorrent. Perhaps the rationale behind this punishment is that that his statements reflected poorly on his team.

    Frankly, I thought the counter-arguments by other players and coaches was the perfect rebuke. This punishment angle achieves nothing other than to give him a thin veneer of martyrdom.

    Posted by: Yeek | Jun 1, 2010 1:20:59 PM


  7. Why is everyone supporting "free speech" on this post? If he said something against blacks or women, he would be sanctioned, just as in this instance. A good meal of crow pie in just what's in order here. He can spout his homophobic ideas in private - there's your free speech.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jun 1, 2010 1:26:11 PM


  8. OHPLEASE hits the nail on the head. If an employee of BigComputer Inc. gave an interview where he said "We don't hire whites as computer programmers because they aren't welcome here" he would have either been fired on the spot for bringing the corporation into disrepute or would soon become very familiar with the nightlife in Pune, India. If he were the media affairs officer, he wouldn't make it through the day. Why should this employee be treated any differently? There is no freedom of speech for employees (e.g. insider trading).

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Jun 1, 2010 1:27:10 PM


  9. This isn't a free speech issue, and it reveals the ignorance of people making it out to be one. You sure do have the right to say practically whatever you want (in the u.s., anyway), but your boss has the right to fire you just as your partner has the right to break up with you.

    Posted by: TANK | Jun 1, 2010 1:40:54 PM


  10. To be honest guys his suspension has very little to do with his initial remarks.

    He lied to the club about whether or not he had submitted the article in the form that was printed. He said that the newspaper had added extra details, which he then recanted when it was proven otherwise.

    The club suspended him for lying to his employee, and making them look like fools. While his initial remarks where ignorant, it was his lies that cost him the suspension, not the remarks themselves.

    Posted by: James | Jun 1, 2010 1:50:38 PM


  11. You guys don't get IT. He's a public figure AND he writes for a magazine, so he makes his money directly from the public.

    He is a brand. What he says effects who he is associated with.

    Duh.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jun 1, 2010 1:52:58 PM


  12. If this had been Shaquille O'Neal, would there have even been a discussion of "free speech?" Y'all full of shit. Pfft.

    Posted by: Q | Jun 1, 2010 2:21:01 PM


  13. Oh, yeah. This is gonna win people to our side. The guy expresses an opinion--as inarticulate and ignorant as it was--and now he gets demoted. Not good PR, folks. Um, if we're going to get people demoted, how about going after the politicians, not some guy on a rugby team.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jun 1, 2010 2:31:07 PM


  14. Yeah, instead maybe you, jamal49 (probly your age), should've sent him a love letter telling him how straight guys are so "hot", and to "stick in there!" YOU FUCKIN' SUCK, JAMAL! YOU SUCK!

    Posted by: TANK | Jun 1, 2010 2:43:47 PM


  15. James is right. Turns out the team had an issue with some of his prior media relations, and he was supposed to get their blessing before releasing any remarks. When this article blew up, he lied about what he said, and got caught.

    I was hoping for this sort of rationale behind his censure by the team. His dishonesty is presented before the world, and it undermines his character and authority as a veteran player. He gets punished for being two-faced and mistreating his teammates, and nothing else. His right to a particular set of beliefs is not called into question.

    Posted by: Yeek | Jun 1, 2010 6:50:31 PM


  16. I'd be interested to know how many people commenting here are actually Australian. His onfield performance has been lacklustre and many behind the scenes people at his club think it is because, at least partially, due to his media commitments. He has TV, radio and print jobs outside of his commitments as a footy player.

    And then there is the whole issue of lying to his club in regards to how much of the article was actually his opinion (he said it had been altered, but has since reneged and admitted it was all him).

    Posted by: Glenn | Jun 1, 2010 11:31:43 PM


  17. some genius says"God forbid someone have an opinion." hitler had an opinion........fine have an opinion but to say you will openly discriminate a fellow player(shower statement)is unprofessional disturbing and should be prehistoric stuff AND any club,company that supports this fellow supports that message ,BOYCOTT!!!!!!

    Posted by: sal | Jun 2, 2010 7:58:40 PM


  18. TANK MARRY MEEE,jeez these comments hahahahaha

    Posted by: sal | Jun 2, 2010 8:00:55 PM


  19. hate speech tolerated an left to fester grows into much more....

    Posted by: sal | Jun 2, 2010 8:03:42 PM


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