The AFL announced yesterday that it was appointing Family Court judge Linda Dessau as an AFL Commissioner. Perhaps Ms Dessau might care to give her fellow AFL Commissioners a lesson in fairness and the rule of law. Oh and how to avoid kangaroo courts in the future.
The treatment of West Coast Eagles star Ben Cousins by the AFL this week was nothing more than a show trial. The AFL, ever conscious of public opinion and the self righteous media which whips itself up into a frenzy every time a footballer pops a pill or gets into a pub brawl, decided that Cousins was going to be fixed up good and proper this week. It charged him with bringing the game into disrepute, held a secretive meeting with Cousins and his lawyer David Grace, and then proceeded to ban Cousins from playing AFL for 12 months. Given how much Cousins earns that’s a whopping big penalty.
And on what basis was this charge brought? Simply, it seems, that the AFL didn’t like the media generated by Ben getting caught by over zealous Western Australian policeman, or going on a coke fuelled bender in LA. You see Cousins faces no criminal charges either in Perth or LA. In the case of the former, the WA Police have had to apologise for their gross mishandling of Cousins’ rights and the LA police, presumably because they have better things to do with their time, are not going to haul Cousins back to face drugs charges in the US.
But who cares that Cousins is an innocent man. The AFL couldn’t care less, and nor could WA Premier Alan Carpenter, who being the good populist that he is, warned the Western Australian Football League not to let the talented Cousins play next year. Gee, that’s going to really assist in Ben’s rehabilitation isn’t it!
The AFL has set a dangerous precedent this week. It is essentially saying that for expediency’s sake, it will sacrifice players even if they have committed no criminal offence. A kangaroo court if ever there was one! Ms Dessau has her work cut out for her.