AFL in New Territory with the Appeal on Houli’s Ban
A 2-match suspension has been handed down to Bachar Houli, of Richmond, by the tribunal for the Australian Football League. The AFL will mount a unique appeal against this suspension, calling it totally inadequate. It was put into place after Houli knocked out Carlton’s Jed Lamb.
In a ruling which took place on Tuesday night, the AFL Tribunal regarded Houli’s strike intentional, and of high impact to Lamb’s head, but the 2-match ban was a result of Houli’s otherwise exemplary character.
Sanctions Sparks Total Outrage
The widespread outrage which this decision sparked has left the AFL tribunal, who had argued for a 4-week sanction originally and have stated that protecting AFL players from head-high contact is 1 of their top priorities, with little choice but to set the appeal process into place for the 1st time.
Simon Lethlean, operations manager for the AFL, told Richmond that the case was going to the Appeals Board shortly before noon on Wednesday, with the appeal to be held on Thursday afternoon.
Lethlean Prepared a Statement, but Took No Questions
Lethlean faced the media with a prepared statement but did not take any questions. He stated that the appeal was being lodged because the sanction imposed on Houli was “manifestly inadequate”. He went on to stress that the AFL took head-impact very seriously, and that the decision to appeal was not personally related to the character of Houli in any way.
Richmond Acknowledges the Appeal
Richmond had acknowledged the appeal by Wednesday afternoon, and added that they would consider their options.
The tribunal jury will be comprised of Hamish McIntosh, Wayne Henwood, and David Neitz, and dismissed Houli’s reasoning of the incident being careless rather than intentional.
The references which the tribunal received from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball and media commentator Waleed Aly informed a key portion of the penalty deliberations handed out by the tribunal. Nathan Burke, match review panel member, however, criticised the weight which the tribunal ended up placing on the character references received.
Burke told Fox Sports News that he would prefer it if the incident was graded purely on its own merit, and that character references should not have held the power they did. He questioned whether a player involved in the same incident that did not have character references by powerful people to support them would have received as light a punishment as Houli did.
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