Culture

This AFLW Star Will Miss The Grand Final, But If She Were A Man, She’d Be Allowed To Play

AFLW players are given suspensions instead of fines because their wages are so low they wouldn't be able to pay them.

Katie Brennan

The Western Bulldogs will front the AFLW appeals board on Thursday afternoon, where they are expected to argue that a two match ban given to their AFLW captain Katie Brennan is unreasonable on the grounds that a male player would have received a fine rather than a suspension.

Brennan was handed a one week suspension by AFL match review officer Michael Christian on Monday, after he concluded that her tackle on Melbourne player Harriet Cordner constituted rough conduct.

Because Brennan had already been reprimanded for rough conduct earlier in the season, Christian determined that she should miss a match. The ban was subsequently upgraded to two matches after a failed appeal on Tuesday, meaning Brennan will miss this Saturday’s Grand Final as well as the first round of the 2019 season.

Many AFLW fans have expressed outrage at the fact Brennan would not have been suspended if she were a man.

In the men’s competition, a rough conduct charge results in a fine of $2000 for the first offence, and $3000 for the second. But because female players earn far less than male players, they aren’t given the option of paying a fine, and instead cop suspensions for lesser offences.

The rookie wage for female players is $10,500, whereas male rookies earn a minimum of $71,500.

Kate Seear, an Associate Professor of Law at Monash University, and one of the hosts of the ABC football podcast The Outer Sanctum, described the situation as “terrible”.

“It’s a double whammy for women” she tweeted on Tuesday. “First they are paid less, then they are penalised more severely precisely [because] they’re paid less.”

Seear said the Bulldogs must argue that Brennan’s suspension was “manifestly unfair based on sex discrimination”.

Her views were echoed by football journalist Kate O’Halloran, who wrote in The Guardian that Brennan was the victim of “an inequitable and unfair system, which ends up punishing women for being unequal in the first place”.

Brennan’s appeal will be heard by the AFL Appeals Board at 3pm today. According to afl.com.au, “it is believed the Bulldogs will argue that if Brennan were playing in the men’s competition, her two rough conduct charges would result only in a fine”.

The AFLW Grand Final will be held in Melbourne on Saturday.