Courtenay Dempsey’s direct referral to the AFL tribunal is the least of his problems.
The indigenous Essendon defender says he and his family are deeply upset after he was the target of racial abuse on social media.
Dempsey said the person responsible has apologised and removed the offending message.
Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell added the club understood Victoria Police had contacted Dempsey, who will have the club’s full support if he decides to take the matter further.
“People need to understand players are human and we have feelings – there is no place for racism in our society and in our game,” Dempsey said in a statement.
“People need to take responsibility for their actions.
“It’s all very well to hide behind social media, but the pain of a comment like that lasts long after it has been deleted.
“I felt I needed to take a stand. It’s important for people to understand their actions have consequences.”
The comments were posted after Saturday night’s loss to Richmond, where Dempsey was reported.
His sling tackle on Brett Deledio left the Tigers star concussed and nursing a sore neck.
Dempsey clearly was worried about Deledio immediately after the incident.
The match review panel referred the case to Tuesday night’s tribunal, rating the incident as careless conduct with severe impact to the head.
It is the first time this season that the panel has rated an incident as severe and Dempsey faces a lengthy suspension.
By contrast, North Melbourne defender Shaun Atley was cleared of a sling tackle on Western Bulldogs player Lachie Hunter that was not dissimilar to the Dempsey incident.
Atley clearly was lucky that Hunter’s head did not hit the ground and the Bulldogs player was not hurt.
Geelong’s Steve Johnson can accept a $1500 fine for rough conduct and teammate James Kelly was offered a $1000 fine for striking.
That means they will be available for Saturday’s home game against Adelaide.
It will be Geelong’s last match of the season and it could also be the last as Cats players for the pair, with the club facing some tough decisions about a group of premiership veterans.