The Melbourne Demons have issued an apology after star players Christian Petracca and Jayden Hunt were seen groping one another during three-quarter time in their match against Essendon.
Footage showed Petracca and Hunt inappropriately touching one another while Demons coach Simon Goodwin spoke at the final break, before laughing about it as the huddle broke apart.
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The emergence of the footage prompted club captain Max Gawn to condemn the behaviour in a statement which was later posted on the club’s website.
“As AFL players, we are role models and have a responsibility to showcase the right behaviours to the wider AFL community,” Gawn said.
“On this occasion, we have clearly fallen short, and we own that this is not acceptable.
“Christian and Jayden know that this was an inappropriate act, which is not in line with our expectations, or that of the league.
“As a playing group, we understand and respect the example we need to be setting, and will continue to reinforce this going forward.”
Elsewhere, the pair were criticised for the act, particularly after the Richmond Tigers were the focus of heavy scrutiny after a series of similar incidents in the club rooms earlier in the season.
Discussing the incident on Fox Footy after the game, Western Bulldogs great said he was stunned to see that sort of behaviour again.
I agree in the scheme of things in a pandemic this is very low on the scale. But as the AFL and Demons are well aware it’s bloody stupid when so many cameras are trained on players 6 weeks after the AFL cracked down after the Chol incident https://t.co/LOIWCsoqiC— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) September 20, 2020
“I can’t believe we’re sitting here talking about it after everything that happened in regards to the Richmond players and the media around that,” he said.
“Now we’re seeing it again with two other players. When are they going to learn, the players?
“Just play the game, that’s all you’ve got to worry about.
“Play the game, play it well and get on and celebrate. None of this other stuff, it’s honestly ridiculous.”
Demons pair slammed over ‘inappropriate’ AFL touching
Johnson wasn’t the only former player bemused by the footage, with Hawthorn champion and former Demon Jordan Lewis also critical of what unfolded.
““Players need to be aware that we live in a different environment now,” he said.
“If it’s not mentioned on commentary, certainly social media will pick it up, and then when it gains traction the club and the AFL have to address it.
“They don’t need to be attending to these types of matters in such an important part of the year.
“Just don’t leave yourself open to this sort of criticism.”
The Tigers generated controversy back in August when Nick Vlaustin and Jayden Short could be seen in footage from the club’s rooms groping teammate Mabior Chol as they sang the team song.
The footage led to an irritable exchange between reporter Hugh Riminton and Tigers coach Damien Hardwick, with the Tigers eventually offering an apology in the days afterwards.