What a few weeks. Barely a soul would have known of Jason Mifsud, let alone be able to describe the role of the AFL Community Manager in detail. Yet now, his position, his own personality and the entire state of indigenous affairs within the AFL has been thrown into question.
The problem, however, is the torching. Andrew Demetriou continues to protect Mifsud and debate is being strangely stifled.
Indeed, when media personalities, such as Mark Robinson on AFL360 and Sam Newman on The Footy Show attempt to be critical, they are often shut down by their co-anchors.
This follows the bizarre statement read out by Garry Lyon on Footy Classified on Monday night, stating that the Matthew Rendell affair has been effectively finished and the AFL would refuse to discuss it further.
The actions of the AFL are outlandish, to say the least. An employee of the AFL has been found to have discussed with at least one media personality, a claim that has been proven to be false by various people.
This employee has had his claim challenged by those implicated, and his statement found to be at minimal in comprehension of the situation.
His false claim has not only tarnished the reputation of a coach, but has also seen an attempt to pin an incorrect, career-ending allegation on him.
The AFL has reacted not by terminating the staff member but by ‘warning’ him.
Further to this, instead of treating the source of this claim as a complainant with a real issue, there have been rumours fed out, in the AFL’s own article no less, that the person in question was a Melbourne player.
Further investigation has lead to the naming of this player. The turn of events has lead to two big questions surrounding these allegations.
Firstly, why is Aaron Davey suddenly a target? Players are like any other group of people on one level.
The AFL and its clubs are ultimately a workplace, not just the field of dreams and camaraderie we watch with awe. Sometimes, like any other workplace, those that are employed have an issue.
The AFL has a particular system in place for indigenous players, recognising their special circumstances within Australian society as well as within Australian football itself.
If, assuming Davey is the source, he had a complaint he has raised it through the proper channels within the AFL.
Why, then, is Davey being slated as a ‘rat’, as a mole, as a snitch who should be ejected? We encourage whistleblowers in Australian society, and yet here we are vilifying one. He had no reason to believe that such a complaint would end up in the public domain, and nor should he.
Secondly, and more concerning, is why Mifsud is being defended. He has now broken the confidence of persons within the AFL twice in a short space of time.
Mifsud’s position requires him to handle complaints from players or persons within the AFL system regarding indigenous issues.
What person is going to trust Mifsud with any sort of private complaint now, considering he has run to persons external to the AFL system with it?
If an indigenous player has an issue with their club tomorrow, are they going to talk to Mifsud, trusting that he will handle it confidentially and effectively?
Cameron Schwab attempted to contact Mifsud for three weeks after the complaint was originally made, and Mifsud failed to return contact.
Surely the first person you would want to talk to about such an issue is a person of authority at the club in question, such as the CEO?
Yet Mifsud instead spoke to Grant Thomas. However, Mifsud’s hand in the Matthew Rendell affair means that his position is absolutely untenable.
One error like this, on its own, can be understood and forgiven. Indeed, Mifsud was defended and forgiven for his response to the Rendell comments despite problems in the story, due to the sensitive nature and Mifsud’s indigenous background.
However, when a second story of a similar nature which has also been found to be exaggerated and blown out of proportion to the original issue comes out, one must surely question the individual who has released said inflated statements.
This not only damages Mifsud’s own reputation tremendously but it also brings the entire Rendell affair back into question, and the AFL’s entire response to the situation.
And yet Jason Mifsud retains a job, the CEO of the AFL defends him and anyone who challenges the status quo is shot down.