Gaff punch on Brayshaw no different to street one-punch assault: Kelly


Updated

August 09, 2018 14:06:25

For Ralph Kelly, the footage opened up old wounds.

“It shocked me,” Mr Kelly told ABC News. “An act like that, it was an assault.

“And I think the AFL needs to look past this one incident and think about violence per se — they need to make change.”

Mr Kelly is referring to the punch that reverberated around Australia this week.

West Coast Eagles star Andrew Gaff’s king hit on Andrew Brayshaw on the grass at Perth Stadium on Sunday afternoon has been talked about and assessed on every angle, from sports panel shows to social media and beyond.

Some have called for a red card system to be introduced to the AFL.

Others went further, calling for criminal charges, while on the flipside, some footy fans argued the outrage was an overreaction and a bit of “biffo” was just part of the game.

Yet, if anyone is in a place to asses the impact of random acts of violence, Mr Kelly is it.

The father of Thomas Kelly, the 18-year-old killed after an unprovoked king hit in Sydney’s Kings Cross in 2012, has been advocating for the reduction of violence in the community.

He said the footage of the incident took him back to that night, and made him ask, once again: “Why do we have these unexpected acts of violence on people?”

Today he called on the AFL to step up.

“The football field should not be immune,” he said.

“The bigger picture in all of this is that what we see on television and on social media takes it in the whole of our community right across Australia.

“Young impressionable children are watching these videos, and what it does is normalises violence.

“An act of violence on a football game, or any oval, is going right across the community and it is making it seem like it’s a normal act, like it’s a part of everyday life.”

Mr Kelly said this “normalisation” stemmed from the AFL’s unwillingness to categorically stamp out on-field violence.

And the anti-violence campaigner said the fact that Gaff revealed in post-match interviews that he wanted to “punch him in the chest” rather than the mouth sent out the wrong message.

AFL ‘happy’ with current system

So far the AFL has resisted calls to introduce a red card system, or stamp out the on-field “niggle” that Mr Kelly said contributed to the normalisation of violence.

Speaking on commercial television this week, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the AFL’s current system “worked”.

“I don’t know that a red card would have changed anything about what happened [on Sunday], in terms of the action,” he said.

“I do believe players are held accountable and I do believe generally it is a deterrent for acts like that.

“We don’t see that stuff much in our game anymore. I think we have a system that works well generally.

“For one or two incidents a year, the deterrent is there.”

Responding to Mr Kelly’s comments today, an AFL spokesman echoed the line that a red card system was not necessary.

Gaff, who showed immediate remorse over the incident, was given an eight-week suspension and will miss the rest of the season.

Brayshaw underwent surgery and will also miss the rest of the season. The scars of his broken jaw will last longer.

What’s going to change?

For Mr Kelly, it is about the bigger picture.

“There’s no difference [between a punch on the field and a punch on the street] to me,” he said.

“In our case we lost a son to a random act of violence on the street.

“It was really lucky that Brayshaw wasn’t more severely injured the outcome could have been much worse.

“There’s nothing to say [a death] couldn’t happen.

“And until the AFL’s acts, what’s going to change?”

Topics:

sport,

australian-football-league,

community-and-society,

sydney-2000,

nsw

First posted

August 09, 2018 13:54:20



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