Female Footballer's Ban For Playing In Men's Game Reduced
The female footballer who copped a ban for playing in a men's team in country South Australia has had her penalty reduced.
The South Australian National Football League (SANFL) slapped Casey McElroy with a six-week ban from the local women's league earlier this month, after she took the field for a men's team which had run out of reserves.
The ban meant McElroy would miss almost the entirety of the Limestone Coast Women's Football League eight-game season in 2020.
After the 27-year-old challenged the decision, an independent tribunal made the decision to reduce the suspension to four weeks on Tuesday night.
"The reduction of my game ban from six down to four as found by Commissioner White is much appreciated," McElroy said after the tribunal at Adelaide Oval.
"We will continue to endeavor to interpret these findings over the coming weeks so I adhere to his ruling."
SANF chairman John Olsen said the code had to make an unfortunate example out of McElroy so as to deter others from breaking the rules.
McElroy joined male teammates for the Padthaway Lions game against Kingston as an unregistered player when the Lions ran out of reserves on May 25.
Both clubs agreed before kick-off that there was no issue with her participation.
The Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara Football League fined the club $2,000, half of which was later suspended.
At the time of the ban, McElroy said she was devastated by the decision, which quickly divided sports fans.
"I guess people are jumping on the gender equality bandwagon but I was just there because I love football," she said.
Both McElroy's father and grandfather played for the Lions and she said that she was "stoked to be a part of it...wearing the same guernsey that both my dad and poppa have worn."
Speaking after Tuesday night's hearing, SA General Manager of Football Adam Kelly said this was "not a gender issue", and McElroy was suspended because she had gone against the code's policies.
Women and girls aged 14 and over are not allowed to play in mixed-gender competitions under the Australian Football Match Policy.
It is not possible for women to register to play in the men's league, which means McElroy was playing as an unregistered and uninsured participant.
According to the SANFL, playing an unregistered player in an official match exposed her, her teammates and the opposition to insurance risk.
When asked why women and men over the age of 14 cannot play together at this time, Kelly said there were multiple possible reasons.
"I'm not going to speak on behalf of the AFL and that policy," he said.
"I understand that the rationale there is to protect the risks of injury for participants and it is also to promote female competitions. We've seen wonderful growth in female competition."
"In 2019 there's over 7000 registered females playing in female-only competitions across this state and that's something we're really proud of. If you think back to 2014 there was only 1000 women."