The Western Bulldogs will meet the Brisbane Lions in the 2018 AFLW Grand Final on Saturday.
But the showdown will see questions raised about gender discrimination in the game, with Bulldogs’ skipper Katie Brennan unable to play due to a suspension she was given by the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.
Brennan and her club say the same tackle would have seen a male AFL player receiving a $5000 fine, but given no suspension.
While issuing a similar monetary fine to a female player would have been seriously unfair, given women receive nothing like the same pay as male players, issuing suspensions instead raises other issues. Especially given the fact women play much shorter seasons, and especially when such a suspension will see a player miss the grand final.
On Thursday, the AFL Appeals board rejected Brennan’s appeal, stating that if she wanted to challenge any discriminatory nature of the AFLW rules, that she should take such a claim to an external court.
So Brennan is taking it to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Western Bulldogs have released a statement this morning, saying Brennan is not seeking to play in the Grand Final, but that: “Both she and the Club remain resolved to right the injustice and gender discrimination which is inherent to the current AFL Rules.”
Brennan’s seeking to not only have her suspension overturned by the AHRC, but also for the AFL to amend current differences between AFLW and AFL regulations.
“To be clear, Katie is not seeking to play tomorrow,” adds the Western Bulldogs’ statement. “She wants her suspension overturned in time in the interests of justice, and the rules changed to make sure what happened to her does not happen to anyone else.”
Brennan commented that she strongly disagrees with the guilty finding she received for her tackle on Harrient Cordner.
“It is even more troubling to know that if I was a man playing in the AFL and was reported for the identical tackle, I would not have been suspended and I would be playing in a Grand final tomorrow.
“The fight for gender equality is as every bit as important to me as the Grand Final and the decisions I have made reflect both of those priorities.”
Speaking on the matter on Neil Mitchell’s 3AW program this morning, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that in “different competitions, we have different rules” and that he doesn’t think it’s fair to say the rules are sexist.
He said they will review discrepancies between AFL and AFLW tribunal penalties at the end of the women’s season — but such a review won’t necessarily see changes made.
Unfortunately it’ll all be too late for Katie Brennan, who will miss her team’s Grand Final tomorrow.