The AFL has abandoned Adelaide’s match against Geelong on Sunday, saying the game would be unplayable following the murder of Crows coach Phil Walsh.
The Crows and Cats will split the competition points, in a move supported by both clubs and the AFL Players’ Association, but the other seven matches of round 14 will go ahead.
Walsh’s son has been charged with the murder of his father who was found stabbed in his Adelaide home on Friday morning.
With flags at AFL House flying at half mast, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the depth of grief made the fixture unplayable.
“While playing footy can be part of the grieving process, we are strongly of the view it is not fair to ask the young men at the Adelaide Crows or the Geelong Cats to play in these circumstances,” he said.
“The sorrow and stress felt today touches many in our industry as Phil Walsh gave a lot to our game.
“He was part of the AFL family for 32 years and there are not many words of comfort today to those who feel this terrible loss.”
McLachlan indicated the league considered cancelling the rest of the round before deciding it was appropriate to play on.
“The remaining seven games from tonight will go ahead,” he said.
“We know that the usual fun and passion of our game will not be there.
“We also know that our clubs, members and supporters will gather in a spirit of respectful mourning, and in support for the family and friends of a great football man, who is loved by so many.”
Hawthorn’s match with Collingwood on Friday night will feature a minute’s silence, with cheer squads abandoning pre-match banners and players wearing black armbands.
While Walsh’s death most immediately impacts the Crows, his AFL footprint extends into coaching boxes and playing lists across the league.
Walsh played 122 games for Collingwood, Richmond and Brisbane in the 1980s before moving into coaching.
He worked as a fitness coach at Geelong, then an assistant at Port Adelaide where he helped win the club’s maiden AFL flag in 2004.
Walsh moved to West Coast from 2009 before returning to the Power in 2014.
He was appointed Adelaide’s senior coach last October.
McLachlan said the AFL was “working closely with all of our partners” to consider the ramifications of cancelling the match.