On Friday the 18th of July Shaun Kenny-Dowall attended the Maroubra police station, where he was charged with the following offences after his former partner took out an AVO against him:
- Assault occasioning actual bodily harm;
- Common assault (six counts);
- Destroy or damage property;
- Use carriage service to menace/harass/offend; and
- Stalk/intimidate intend fear physical etc harm.
It took two days for any football related authority to take decisive action. Finally on Sunday morning the Sydney City Roosters decided that SKD would be stood down from the Sunday afternoon match against the Warriors.
Kenny-Dowall should be afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This article does not seek to discuss that matter any further, but rather examine the NRLs appalling display of double standards.
In the past decade the NRL has constantly been marred by off field incidents concerning violence towards women by players currently in the National League. Although efforts have been undertaken to address these issues the average fan gets the impression that the NRL has a severe conflict of interest when these situations arise.
It is quite incredulous that it took anyone in the League nearly a whole two days to act upon the SKD charges. The NRL claims to be a proud member of the White Ribbon movement, yet it was the Roosters and not the NRL that finally made the right decision to suspend SKD’s involvement with football.
Over the course of 48 hours the NRL tried to squirm and weasel its way through the situation: first refusing to deny SKD the right to play and then secondly claiming that it was powerless to prevent the Roosters from fielding him.
The second claim is absolute crap. While the Roosters may have set out the terms and conditions of the player’s contract the NRL holds the registration rights for said contract, and therefore exercises the highest form of control.
By failing to move swiftly and decisively the NRL has proven that their involvement in campaigns such as White Ribbon are tokenistic at best; that they will refrain from acting until backed into a corner.
The NRL has demonstrated a shocking disregard for the issue of domestic violence in recent years. No action was taken against Rabbitohs player Kirisome Auva’a until he had secured a premiership, despite the fact that the NRL was aware of his situation well in advance of the Grand Final.
The NRLs desperation to protect their brand integrity was further reinforced by this paltry media release found on NRL.com:
The Sydney Roosters wish to advise that following consultation with the club’s coaching and welfare staff, it has been decided together with Shaun Kenny-Dowall, that he will not be playing this afternoon.
This should not in any way be taken as an admission Shaun has done anything wrong and to do so would be incorrect.
The Sydney Roosters final team line-up for today’s game will be confirmed one hour prior to kick-off.
No mention of why he is being stood down, merely that he is. No mention that his alleged actions are in direct contravention of the NRLs pledge to White Ribbon.
While the League may not be in control of a players actions in their off field personal lives they are most surely in control of the consequences. By failing to act decisively and quickly they have failed not just women involved in all aspects of the game but also the men, children and families who love the sport.
In a nation where more than 30 women have been killed through domestic violence in 2015 alone, and where the Australian of the Year is an advocate against and a victim of domestic violence, it is clear that at the moment the NRL is anything but a national leader on this issue.