Three Australian rules players are facing a string of charges including serious misconduct, striking and abuse towards an umpire, following an investigation into a violent brawl at a September grand final in Katherine..
- AFLNT has completed its probe into a violent grand final match in Katherine three months after the incident
- Three people were arrested at the time, and one umpire was seriously injured
- The probe found hostility between the teams hadn’t been acted upon appropriately
A number of spectators also received five-year bans from all AFLNT events as a result of the probe.
Three people were arrested by police and umpires were chased from the field during a fight that broke out immediately after the Camels beat the Ngukurr Bulldogs in the Big Rivers Football League (BRFL) grand final game in Katherine on September 3.
One umpire was injured and a live-streamed online video of the grand final match and fight was immediately taken down from the AFLNT website.
In a statement released late on Friday afternoon, AFLNT reported that its months-long probe into the incident — carried out by an independent investigator — found there was no evidence any player had been involved in the crowd violence and there was strong evidence that Ngukurr players attempted to control the crowd.
The investigation found the football field fence was not sufficient, with police stating in interviews with the investigator that “patrons removed from the venue were returning through gaps in the perimeter”.
AFLNT stated the decision to schedule the match at night “could have contributed” to the incident and that evidence of “ongoing hostility” between the teams “hasn’t been acted upon appropriately by either club and may have added to the events at the 2022 BRFL grand final”.
Three Ngukurr Bulldogs players are facing a string of charges including serious misconduct against an umpire, behaving in an abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene manner towards an umpire and striking, all resulting in match penalties.
One Katherine Camels player will receive a notice of breach for striking another person, resulting in a 15-match penalty.
The AFLNT said each player would be able to reduce their match penalties with an early guilty plea.
The Katherine Camels received a $2,000 fine that was fully suspended for the next three seasons, and the Ngukurr Bulldogs — a remote community team that travelled six hours to compete — were fined $8,000.
Only half of that fine was suspended for the next three seasons.
The players from the remote community will also have to engage in education programs and behavioural change programs before the start of the 2023 season.
AFLNT has committed to conducting club forums, community education and a review of the grounds before the next season begins.
In the statement, AFLNT said it took violence “very seriously”, adding “there is no place for violence in our game.”