North Melbourne AFL players Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar have apologised for organising a party and breaking social distancing guidelines.
The two young player are housemates and were the hosts of a gathering in Kensington on Sunday night, hours after playing in the Kangaroos' win over St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.
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Neighbours complained of a disturbance late at night but police were not called.
Resident Patricia Ky told the ABC she asked the players to stop the party but was assured that they "work together" so if one of them had coronavirus they all had it.
She said she shocked the players would so irresponsibly ignore messages from the government about the seriousness of social distancing.
"I spoke to them early in the evening and asked them to keep in mind social distancing, they failed to heed that advice and this morning when I came home from work they were still out, wandering in and out of the house," Dr Ky told the ABC.
"They're feeling young and invincible and that they're willing to risk asymptomatically infecting themselves in order to not suffer any inconvenience to their social lives and they're completely disregarding the risk they pose to others as they all leave that house."
The Kangaroos followed up the complaint on Monday morning, releasing a statement to say the players were sorry for their actions.
"The players unreservedly apologise and understand it was inappropriate in the current climate," a North Melbourne Football Club spokesperson said in a statement.
Fans have expressed their dismay over the incident but many are divided on whether blame lies squarely with the players or the AFL as a whole, taking into consideration the game's response to the coronavirus threat.
BREAKING: A doctor has called out two North Melbourne footballers for throwing a wild party in Kensington last night - a breach of social distancing rules - More soon @abcmelbourne— Elias Clure (@EliasLClure) March 23, 2020
This is a semi-regular occurrence for these men. Mid-week, late-night parties have been happening throughout the 2019 season. Given the current situation, it's obnoxious behaviour.— bookreaderinvictoria (@bookreaderinvi1) March 23, 2020
Very silly boys— BecauseTheAsh (@Estreetgroupie) March 23, 2020
North Melbourne has 2 fools there. We are AFL footballers no rules for us. Selfish morons.— Hezza (@Hezza7) March 23, 2020
North Melbourne football players apologise for 'inappropriate' party amid coronavirus social-distancing warnings-If we can't do better at physical distancing the Government will make these decisions for us so lift your game guys-everyone but especially you and those Bondi idiots!— Rogue Trader (@JaaseMccormick) March 23, 2020
Hard to blame them when the AFL were slowing them to play with full contact that day. The NRL are still irresponsibly putting their players at risk.— David Smith (@DavidSm24313369) March 23, 2020
North Melbourne footballers apologise for 'inappropriate' house party amid social-distancing warnings https://t.co/YsBP2WUh4r
you can hardly blame the players when two days ago they were told it was ok to be on field in a contact-heavy sport!!!! christ on a cracker.— Clare Corbould (@clarecorbould) March 23, 2020
Idiots— Bert (@dragonboots) March 23, 2020
‘Stop being selfish’
The incident comes after the AFL announced a shutdown of the competition until at least May 31 to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, former AFLW player Meg Hutchins has taken to social media to call out players who had planned 'Mad Monday' celebrations after the sudden cancellation of the women's competition.
Hutchins tweeted: "Take note any #AFLW player(s) planning any form of end of season Mad Monday type of gathering. I've already seen a few over social media in the last 24-hours...... pull your heads in, stop being selfish, and be the role models you are privileged to be."
Take note any #AFLW player(s) planning any form of end of season Mad Monday type of gathering. I’ve already seen a few over social media in the last 24-hours...... pull your heads in, stop being selfish, and be the role models you are privileged to be. Please.🙏🏼 https://t.co/0Um9DaoQl6— Meg Hutchins (@hutchy_25) March 22, 2020
The AFL Commission considered awarding the AFLW premiership to one of the four clubs still in contention but ultimately decided it would have felt “contrived” after calling the season off.
It came soon after Carlton had booked their place in a second-consecutive preliminary final with a 29-point win over Brisbane at Ikon Park.
Fremantle, North Melbourne and Melbourne were also still in the hunt.
“It was incredibly disappointing and I think the decision ended up being obvious today, but I would've loved to have finished (the season),” McLachlan said.
“There was a range of discussions and whether it would be the minor premier, (which is) difficult with two conferences.
“There was a leader there ... but in the end, that would've all been contrived.
“There's not a winner this year because we've been stood down by something much bigger.”
AFLW community reacts to ‘devastating’ news
Fremantle would have had strong claims if the AFL had decided to award the women's premiership, after winning all seven of their matches in 2020 and thrashing Gold Coast by a record margin on Saturday in their semi-final.
But the Dockers had not played any of the other preliminary finalists this year and North Melbourne were widely considered as flag favourites.
After the news broke, the Dockers tweeted: “Devastating news for our girls. So proud of everything they've achieved in 2020, we've loved every moment.”
Carlton coach Daniel Harford was philosophical when asked, after his side's 6.8 (44) to 2.3 (15) win over Brisbane, whether football should continue during the pandemic.
“From a footy perspective, yeah, you'd love to keep going but there are bigger things in life than just footy - we understand that,” he said.
“We love footy and we are so passionate about footy and our girls are just brilliant at the game at the moment. I want to see them achieve as much they can out of it but we understand the bigger picture.
“Footy is just a small component of life and there's much more important stuff going around at the moment.
“We're not too stressed about it; we're just living for the moment.”