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Female AFL star taking suspension case to top human rights body on grounds of sexism

Western Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan will miss the AFL Women’s Grand Final after being suspended over a sling tackle.

Image: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

A STAR FEMALE Aussie Rules football player banned for two matches for rough conduct is taking her case to the country’s top human rights body, arguing that she was being discriminated against due to gender.

Western Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan will miss the Australian Football League Women’s Grand Final on Saturday after being suspended.

Brennan had appealed the punishment, imposed for a second incident this season, over a sling tackle — where a player grabs an opponent and hurls them to the ground — but it was knocked back by the AFL Thursday.

A male AFL player could be fined for a similar tackle. Local media reported such financial penalties were not part of AFLW rules as the low salaries of women players meant they could not afford to pay.

The minimum wage of a senior-listed AFLW footballer is Aus$10,500 (US$8,100), with top players earning up to Aus$20,000 for the seven-week league. Average AFL salaries were Aus$352,470 for the men’s 22-week season.

Her club said she would submit a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission against the AFL, as she was determined to “right the injustice and gender discrimination which is inherent to the current AFL Rules”.

“I believe my tackle on (Melbourne’s) Harriet Cordner was reasonable and I strongly disagree with the guilty finding,” Brennan said in a statement.

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,” she added.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan told Melbourne commercial radio station 3AW the rule will “definitely be looked at”, but did not promise any changes.

Saying we’re sexist is unfair”, he added, saying the male and female leagues were “two different competitions”.

“They (AFLW players) play over seven weeks, not 22, there is a pay differential and that’s being discussed — that’s relevant here as well,” McLachlan said.

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“The finals series is different, there are 16 players and not 18. So the fact that the tribunal system is different is only one of a number of differences because they’re two different competitions.”

The AFLW, launched last year, is seen as a significant step forward in the male-dominated sport and has attracted large crowds.

- © AFP, 2018

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