'Out of whack': Outrage over Collingwood's virus breach fine

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, AFL journalist Mark Robinson says Collingwood's virus breach fine should be more substantial.
Mark Robinson is not happy about the fine handed to Collingwood after a breach from their coaches. Pic: Getty/Fox Sports

The fine handed down to Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and assistant Brenton Sanderson has left some sections of the AFL community fuming.

Buckley and Sanderson will pay the $25,000 fine (with the other $25,000 suspended) after they were found to be in breach of the AFL's virus protocols when they played a doubles tennis match with two people from outside the quarantine hubs.

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The pair were given permission to play tennis but once it involved people from outside the club's travel bubble - including Australia's Fed Cup captain and former women's world No.8 Alicia Molik - they were in breach of the strict guidelines imposed on all clubs.

The AFL has already had to deal with several quarantine breaches, with Richmond fined $45,000 after veteran Trent Cotchin's wife Brooke left the hub for a visit to a day spa.

However, Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson says the fines for players and coaching staff breaching virus protocols should be a lot higher than those dished out to family members.

Speaking on Fox Sports' AFL 360 on Monday night, Robinson criticised the "wishy-washy" handling of the breaches by the AFL.

“You cannot penalise the Collingwood coach the same as you penalise (family members like) Trent Cotchin’s wife’s indiscretion of going for a facial,” Robinson declared on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Monday night.

“They’re part of the community, but they’re not part of the tight-knit (AFL). Bucks is a coach, mate.

“The AFL should’ve slapped them with an unconditional, no suspended, $100,000 fine, maybe $200,000 fine and say you’ve got to accept more responsibility for the mistake you’ve made. Don’t suspend him, don’t stand him down as coach.”

“This is so out of whack."

Robinson said the AFL needed to seriously consider stripping the Magpies of premiership points if they are in breach of virus protocols again, with Steele Sidebottom's indiscretion in June and Buckley's recent slip-up leaving them on the cusp of a third strike.

“Do your job and say, no more. Hundred, $200,000 fine. Next time you do it, take premiership points off them.

“Because that’s three (mistakes). Steele Sidebottom, Nathan Buckley, there’s no third. There’s no ‘ohh, we feel for Bucks’. Of course I feel for Bucks, but come on, we’ve got more at stake than this.”

“For him (Buckley) to make such a potentially monumental error, which could have been grave, people could’ve been ill, it could’ve brought down the competition and certainly could’ve brought down Collingwood. It was just beyond belief. It’s really beyond belief.”

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The fine for Cotchin's wife Brooke came about after her quarantine breach was exposed by since stood-down AFL reporter Mitch Cleary, whom the footy community has rallied around to be reinstated to his position.

Brooke Cotchin posted on Instagram that she had visited the spa - which contravened an agreement between players, clubs and the Queensland state government while they’re in quarantine hubs with their families.

However her name hadn’t been published in regards to the fine after an agreement between Richmond and the AFL, even though her post had been widely seen and veteran journalist Caroline Wilson had already named her on radio.

So the AFL decided to stand Cleary down when he published her post on social media on Friday night.

Seen here, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, as well as Trent and Brooke Cotchin.
The AFL journalist was stood down for publishing Brooke Cotchin's controversial Instagram post. Image: Getty

AFL Media employees are reportedly required to put their obligations to the league ahead of any motives as journalists.

Fellow journalist Gerard Whateley said the AFL's handling of the Cleary incident goes against previous claims that AFL Media work independently from the league.

“The AFL standing down Mitch Cleary is a betrayal of journalism and it is an exposing moment and I would think it’s an unnerving moment if you worked at AFL Media and you believed that you were working as a journalist rather than as an employee of the AFL,” Whateley said.

“You always have to know who you’re working for, but usually when you’re a journalist it comes without interference. That’s just a straight out betrayal of journalism.”

Collingwood chairman Eddie McGuire agreed that AFL Media were in the wrong.

“They have no problem telling us they’re independent when they’re shredding players, clubs and officials,” McGuire said on Triple M radio.

“This is going to have some ramifications down the track on what the AFL Media department is all about.”

with AAP