AFL chief Andrew Dillon blocks Wayne Carey honour

The AFL has taken the extraordinary step of blocking Wayne Carey from being elevated to legend status at the NSW Football Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday night.

Falling on the same weekend the AFL is honouring victims of gender-based violence across the league, Carey’s planned induction had caused outrage in a number of circles.

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The North Melbourne great has a history littered with allegations of domestic violence, along with assault convictions, with many pointing out the hypocrisy of the 52-year-old being feted this weekend.

The AFL Executive held a crisis meeting when informed of the decision by AFL NSW, with the sport’s chief executive Andrew Dillon stepping in to intervene, as reported by the Herald Sun.

The masthead states Dillon personally rang Carey to express the competition’s concern about the induction.

While the two-time premiership-winning captain will still be inducted into the NSW Hall of Fame among 100 of the state’s footy champions, he won’t receive legend status as originally planned.

“The AFL acknowledge the decision by a committee of NSW football industry people to recognise Wayne Carey’s contribution on the football field as part of 100 inaugural inductees in the NSW Hall of Fame,” Dillon said in a statement to the Herald Sun.

“His contribution on the field is also why he was recognised in the AFL Hall of Fame in 2010.

“(On Thursday afternoon) the AFL Executive were alerted to the decision by the NSW Hall of Fame Committee for Carey to be elevated to legend status.

“We didn’t think it was the right decision.”

After consultation with Dillon, Carey has now reportedly agreed not to attend the gala dinner on Friday night, which is being held at the SCG.

Nine legends will now be celebrated on the night, rather than the 10 initially slated.

“I called Wayne Carey earlier this morning to inform him of this and he agreed that being made a legend would take away from the event and the important focus on the national response to the issue of gender-based violence against women,” Dillon said.

“He also agreed the focus should be on the inaugural inductees and the nine legends of NSW Football that will be announced tonight.”

Ahead of each round eight match in the AFL, players from each team, officials and umpires are forming a circle in the middle of the ground and a moment of silence is being observed for women who have lost their lives to gender-based violence.

Among Carey’s long list of offences, he pleaded guilty in 1997 to indecent assault after grabbing a woman’s breast on a Melbourne street and allegedly asking her: “Why don’t you go and get a bigger set of t*ts?”

In 2006, Carey allegedly hit himself over the head with a champagne bottle and wrestled with a security guard after an alleged domestic dispute with then-girlfriend, Kate Neilson in a New York hotel room.

The security guard, Kyle Banks, went on tell A Current Affair that he saw Carey “smacking” Neilson in their room at the W Hotel and tried to intervene.

In 2007, Miami police were called to a luxury hotel after Carey allegedly smashed a wine glass into Neilson’s face during a confrontation in the hotel’s restaurant, leaving her “bleeding profusely”.

When police went to the couple’s suite, Carey lashed out and kicked a female officer in the mouth, and was convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer.

In the years since, he has been afforded countless opportunities to redeem himself in the public eye, including commentary opportunities on three separate networks and an appearance on SAS Australia, the Channel 7 show with a penchant for rehabilitating the images of “fallen” Australian men.

National Women’s Safety Alliance (NSWA) executive director, Katherine Berney, slammed the decision to elevate Carey.

“I think that it is important for sporting codes to step up and say this is not the expectation we have of our players, our clubs, our fans, and so I support that, because that’s the way we need to get these messages out into the community,” Berney said.

“Doesn’t it feel a bit empty when you then celebrate someone who has a history of harming women?

“I think when people harm someone, that is their legacy. I don’t really care if they’ve got awards or anything like that, it makes no difference to me.

“He pleaded guilty to indecent assault … what a great guy to celebrate and amplify because he can kick a football. It’s disgusting.”

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