Knox Football Club Apologises After Players’ Sexism To Opposition

Knox Football Club, a local Melbourne club, has been slammed after reports of disgusting and sexist behaviour from male players towards the opposing women’s team over the weekend. The incident came just one week after the AFL held a tribute to victims of gendered violence and declared they were “committing to do more to stop this community-wide problem” — and on the same day that the local competition was holding its own domestic violence awareness round.

According to reports from 3AW reporter Jacqui Felgate, male players from Knox Football Club engaged in sexist behavior towards players from Donvale Football Club as the players returned to the field for the second half of their women’s match.

“As the women ran out at half time, male players from Knox lined up on either side of the race, and yelled at ratings for each player,” she said on Monday

“They held out their legs to trip the women over and used the phrases yes, no, mediocre, rating each female player. The players were rightly upset but they played out the rest of the game.”

Yes. You read that right. Grown adult men, during a round dedicated to stopping gendered violence, thought it was appropriate to rate women and attempt to trip them over.

It’s unclear how many men actually engaged in the behaviour, but Felgate reports that “more than 20 other players watched it happen and didn’t speak up”. So I guess all this talk about the footy taking a stand against gendered violence was nothing more than lip service.

Knox Football and Netball Club president Paul Blair has since issued a statement calling the behaviour “completely unacceptable”.

“To Knox Football Netball Club community, you may be aware of an incident that occurred at half time in the women’s game where KFNC Players made antisocial behaviour or behaviour that is disrespectful towards the Donvale Women’s Players,” Blair said in a statement shortly after the story broke.

“Behaviour of this kind is completely unacceptable at our club, and we are deeply concerned by the incident.

“As soon as we were made aware of the incident we immediately launched an investigation.

“We are committed to take firm action to ensure that our community are aware that we condemn this type of behaviour.

“We have extended our deepest apologies to the Donvale Football club, and will continue to work closely with them and the EFNL to keep them informed on the outcome and actions we will take as a result of our investigation.

“The safety of all players is paramount and we do not tolerate antisocial behaviour or behaviour that is disrespectful to women.

“As a club we take this matter seriously and will be taking a strong stance on this, as this is not what we stand for as a club and we do not condone these actions.”

Donvale has refused to comment on the situation while an investigation is underway, but did call it “a matter of serious concern.”

Knox’s women’s team are yet to make a statement.

The incident adds to an already concerning conversation regarding the AFL and gendered violence. And while 35 women have been killed in 2024, the conversation in the footy world continues to be dominated by men.

Just last week, Channel 7 aired a segment that featured an all-male panel interviewing Essendon coach Brad Scott about his earlier comments that Tarryn Thomas (who was given an 18-match suspension over inappropriate behaviour towards a woman) is a “good person” and he believes in second chances. It is worth noting that North Melbourne put Thomas through multiple rehabilitation programs and were so unsatisfied with his progress that CEO Jennifer Watt emailed rival clubs to warn that he “was not able to meaningfully change his behaviour.”

Thomas is by no means the only man associated with the AFL who has been accused of mistreating women.

And so it begs the question, when all aspects of footy, from local level women’s games to the top tier of the professional game are littered with this behaviour, is it enough to just stand in a circle and observe a minute’s silence? Probably not.

For what it’s worth, the Donvale girls didn’t let loser behaviour from men get them down and managed to defeat Knox by 29 points.

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