Aussie Rules players banned for virus breach after strip club brawl
Two Australian Rules players were slapped with 10-game bans and sent home in disgrace Friday after a drunken brawl outside a strip club, which broke strict coronavirus regulations.
Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones, who play for reigning champions Richmond, left their bio-secure 'bubble' and ventured out into Surfer's Paradise, a bar-heavy area of Gold Coast, where they got into a fight at 3:30 am Friday.
Coleman-Jones suffered facial injuries and was treated in hospital. Stack was detained by police, but no charges were laid.
The Australian Football League said they had been sent home to Melbourne and banned for 10 games, with Richmond hit with a Aus$100,000 fine (US$72,000).
A host of AFL teams from Melbourne, which is under a coronavirus lockdown, have relocated to bio-secure hubs in Queensland state to ensure the season continues.
Players are prohibited from attending bars, restaurants or other confined public spaces.
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the protocols were the competition's license to continue playing, and any breach was serious.
"It is a privilege to be able to continue our competition, and with that privilege comes responsibility," he said.
"The actions of the players are not only irresponsible but disrespectful to the competition and everyone associated with it."
"There is simply no excuse for this breach," he added.
The breaches included Stack, 20, and Coleman-Jones, 21, travelling in an Uber car, visiting a non-approved venue and getting involved in a police-related incident.
Richmond chief Brendon Gale said he was incredibly disappointed in the pair.
"They have let down themselves, teammates, our members and supporters, our partners and the entire AFL industry," he said.
"Yes, young people can make mistakes, but we expect better."
It is not the first scandal involving Richmond since the season resumed in June after a lengthy coronavirus-enforced shutdown.
Last month the club apologised after footage on social media showed a player grabbing the genitals of a teammate during a post-match song in their dressing room, while another was seen prodding the man's anus.
Social media erupted at the time, with some calling it "blatant sexual harassment" while others saw it as simply "locker room antics".
"We all accept that this has been a difficult year, but it is no excuse for some of the mistakes we have made," said Gale.
© 2020 AFP