Chris Fagan snaps at journo amid furore around AFL Tribunal call on Charlie Cameron

Cameron avoided suspension after a contentious ruling from the AFL Tribunal.

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has snapped at an AFL journalist after offering a staunch defence of his player Charlie Cameron and the Tribunal's controversial decision to downgrade the star's charge. Cameron is free to take on Geelong this Saturday after the Tribunal used discretionary powers to turn his one-game suspension into a fine, following a dumping tackle on Melbourne player Jake Lever.

Cameron was facing a ban after being charged over the incident but the Tribunal found "exceptional and compelling circumstances" to turn the ban into a fine because of Cameron's clean record. The Lions veteran has never been banned in his 207-game career, and received character references from Adelaide and Carlton champion Eddie Betts and an Indigenous elder.

Pictured left to right, Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan and star Charlie Cameron.
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan got a little irritated with an AFL journo after defending the Charlie Cameron ruling at the Tribunal. Pic: Getty

The Tribunal also noted that Lever wasn't injured in the incident. But the ruling has been slammed across the AFL world, with veteran journalist Mark Robinson describing it as "the most mind-boggling decision at the AFL tribunal this year." Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd also admitted he was "really confused" that Cameron was let off when the AFL has spoken so consistently about protecting the safety of its players.

Chris Fagan back Charlie Cameron move at AFL Tribunal

Speaking to reporters on Friday ahead of Brisbane's clash with Geelong on Saturday, Fagan said he fully endorsed the Tribunal's ruling and brushed off concerns it had opened up a can of worms around future incidents involving players with clean records. “When you go to the Tribunal, you use everything at your disposal to try and free up your player, which (is something) every club does,” the Lions coach told reporters.

“If a bloke’s got a good record, he’s played 200 games and he’s never been suspended for a match, you would at least give that a mention, I’d think, otherwise you’d be remiss in your duty to that player. (Cameron’s good record) was mentioned. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the main reason why the charge was downgraded to low impact.”

Fagan's press conference then became tetchy when he was pressed by a journalist on the grading of Cameron's indiscretion. The veteran coach snapped back at the reporter after it was insinuated that the 'medium impact' grading of the incident perhaps should have resulted in a ban for his player.

“They talked about it was at the low end of medium impact. I’m arguing to you that it was low impact,” Fagan fired back at the journo. “Oh, well. Mate, interview the Tribunal. Don’t interview me. I didn’t make the decision, OK?”

Charlie Cameron escaped suspension for his tackle on Jake Lever on character grounds. Image: Fox Footy/Getty
Charlie Cameron escaped suspension for his tackle on Jake Lever on character grounds. Image: Fox Footy/Getty

Chris Scott weighs in on contentious Tribunal ruling

There is a growing sense across the AFL that the Cameron case could potentially be used as a precedent, with clubs attempting to draw upon character references or disciplinary records in other hearings. Geelong coach Chris Scott admitted that would be inevitable when asked if was an avenue the Cats would go down if necessary in the future.

"Oh, well, you have to now," he said. "Whether you agree with it or not, it's incumbent on you to use that... Because there are plenty of others who have asked for it and been denied, which is highly offensive." Scott refused to be drawn on the wider ramifications of the Tribunal's ruling but backed the AFL to keep player safety at the forefront of the sport.

"I don't feel like I have anything to add to it right at the moment, except to say that we're really clear on what the AFL's trying to do around dangerous tackles and anything that has a potential to cause head trauma," Scott added. "I've got a view on it, but I just don't think I can be constructive around that conversation at the moment...

It is much more challenging when you're playing that team this week. When I saw it (the Cameron tackle) I expected him to be playing, so it's not like it's overly surprising. The surprising part is how they got to that point."

with agencies