Gold Coast footballer Wil Powell admits to homophobic slur. (Instagram)
Gold Coast footballer Wil Powell admits to homophobic slur. (Instagram)
3 min read

Here we go again… for the third time in 2023, an Australian Rules Football participant has delivered a homophobic slur on the football field… and we wait for the typical three-line corporate response from the AFL without anything, actually being done about the issue.

Gold Coast player Wil Powell has admitted to using the slur towards a Brisbane player during a game on Sunday night.

He immediately self-reported the incident to his team and the AFL and apologised to the player who he directed the abuse towards.


The incident follows a three-match ban handed to Port Adelaide Player Jeremy Finlayson for a similar event in April and another by North Melbourne Coach Alastair Clarkson in a pre-season match earlier in the year.

After receiving a five-match penalty, Powell has today faced the media, his teammates and the administration of the Gold Coast and apologised.

“I just want to offer my sincere apology to everyone that I have affected and may have hurt during the last couple of hours,” Powell said in a media conference on Thursday.

“On Sunday night there was a heated confrontation between me and a Brisbane Lions player, where I slipped a homophobic word in accident.

“The moment I said the word that I said I instantly regretted it. I knew it was the wrong thing say and I apologised immediately to the Brisbane Lions player multiple times during the night and immediately after the game.”


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Although this is becoming a regular theme across players in the AFL, Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans said the use of the word came from out of the blue.

“The unusual thing here is we don’t have a history of hearing this word inside our club or even in the way we speak in the community,” Evans said on SEN radio.

“So that’s the surprise. And Wil, as you might have heard, he’s a very genuine person.

“He’s addressed our staff today and he said to me, I can’t wait to make sure that I’m in front of our playing groups and others who weren’t there today.

“He wants to do that. He wants people to know that this is not what he stands for and he feels like he’s let himself, his family and his club down.”

Evans, who was General Manager, Football Operations at the AFL before moving to CEO of the Gold Coast, has agreed that these comments do affect the broad community and could in effect stop a gay player from feeling comfortable in being open about their sexuality.

“When I was at the AFL and we were trying to do some things with the Yarra Glen Football Club on a pride game, we did some education and some research inside of the playing groups,” Evans continued on SEN.

“The players, when they’re sitting down discussing this in a normal environment, where they were working through some of the issues, were quite confident that if someone was gay inside of a football club, that they could handle that and support that.

“They thought the issues would mostly come from over the fence. But our problem is when it does come up from a player on the field, I can understand how people would then be reluctant to come forward and state their sexuality. So we have still got some work to do in that regard.”

As expected, the AFL legal counsel Stephen Meade has given a carbon-copy response to the incident, almost word-for-word on the response given in April.

“It is extremely disappointing to be dealing with a similar incident in only a matter of weeks,” Meade said.

“The AFL acknowledges Powell’s remorse and co-operation, and while it has considered the circumstances in which the comment was made, there are no excuses for this conduct in our game.

“We foreshadowed both publicly and privately that after what transpired at Gather Round if a similar incident was to happen there would be further consequence.

“There could be no clearer message – homophobia has no place in our game, nor in society. We want all people in the community to feel welcomed in our game and comments such as Powell’s only takes away from this. As a code, as a community, we all must be better.”

  • No mention of concrete steps the AFL taking to address this issue and create a safer environment for LGBTQ+ players and fans.
  • No mention of strategies that they are developing to create a more inclusive environment that encourages LGBTQ+ footballers to feel comfortable coming out.
  • No mention of whether diversity and inclusion training is not just being implemented but also effectively communicated and embraced at all levels of the organisation, and
  • No mention of plans they have to engage with fans and educate them about creating a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ supporters including the implementation of a Pride Round for the men’s competition in the AFL.

Until something concrete is done, this will continue unabated.


Last Updated on May 9, 2024

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