A developing spat between Patrick Dangerfield and gambling counsellor has worsened, with reports the two parties be headed to court.
On Tuesday evening, the Herald Sun reported the spat had the potential to end up in court, after the AFL Players’ Association, of which Dangerfield is president, refused to withdraw comments made about counsellor Jan Beames.
Dangerfield had taken exception to an earlier story Beames had done with Herald Sun football writer Mark Robinson, in which she suggested more than 100 AFL players were grappling with gambling problems, including two whose losses totalled more than $1 million.
Speaking on Channel 7’s Talking Footy, Dangerfield said he was ‘disappointed’ with the article.
“I was really disappointed by it … the fact that we, as a PA, were not even consulted or spoken to in regards to the article, so we can’t put forward the different measures that we have to help support players,” Dangerfield said.
“I think fundamentally it comes back to mental health, and whether it’s drug use, alcoholism or gambling … so the fact that we weren’t even spoken to by Mark really frustrated me.”
Dangerfield also referred to Beames as a ‘disgruntled operator’.
Beames is not a qualified psychologist or counsellor, but has a long history of working with AFL players struggling wth gambling issues.
An email sent to the AFLPA by Beames and husband Colin, who is and operational psychologist, accused the organisation of “playing the man, not the issue”.
“(Dangerfield’s) comments were ill-informed, besmirching Jan Beames’ counselling reputation and professional conduct, and otherwise unbecoming of the president of the AFLPA,” the statement read.
“We have received overwhelming support from colleagues, current and past clients, and other significant professional people (including David Schwarz, Jeff Kennett), in bringing this significant gambling issues out in the open.”
No backing down from AFLPA
In response, AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said no retraction would be forthcoming, claiming some players felt the confidentiality had been breached by Beames’ initial interview with the Sun.
Marsh said the AFLPA was associated with 120 qualified psychologists and counsellors, and that Beames was not part of their network because she was not qualified.
“We have had contact with Jan before (and) if she could get qualified then she’s certainly eligible to be considered for the network,” Marsh said.
“But she hasn’t got those qualifications.”
While other have since come out in support of Beames, including Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan and GWS Giants coach Leon Cameron, the author of the article that prompted the furore is concerned the point of his piece has been missed.
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Mark Robinson discussed the issue on Fox Sports program AFL 360.
“I’m concerned it’s getting away from the actual issue,” Robinson said.
“Maybe these people have to have these stoushes.”
“I think there’ll be big announcements on gambling and help and welfare for the players later in the year.”