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Club statement: Katie Brennan

Western Bulldogs have released the following statement on the suspension of Katie Brennan.

Three principles have been of paramount importance to Katie Brennan and the Western Bulldogs following the suspension of Katie by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night:

- To fight the injustice and inequality to women which afflicts the AFL rules;
- To give the team the best possible chance of winning Saturday’s Grand final;
- To do her best to make herself available to assist on field with pursuing that success.

After the rejection of her appeal by the AFL Appeals Board on Thursday, Katie spent several hours with Club senior management discussing her options.

The AFL yesterday submitted to the Appeals Board that if Katie challenged the discriminatory nature of the AFLW rules, Katie should take that claim to an external court.

In preparation for this, Katie’s legal team served draft documents on the AFL for a Federal Court challenge to her suspension, and a separate challenge against the AFL to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

After lengthy consideration, Katie has decided that in the best interests of the team on Saturday it is best to resolve the matter by not seeking to pursue the Federal Court application. 

She will not play in Saturday’s Grand Final but will instead strongly support the team tomorrow from the sidelines.

However, both she and the Club remain resolved to right the injustice and gender discrimination which is inherent to the current AFL Rules. 

Accordingly, Katie has this morning filed proceedings with the Australian Human Rights Commission seeking to have her suspension overturned and for the AFL to amend the differences between the AFLW regulations and the AFL regulations to ensure that in future, other women players are not more likely to be suspended than men for identical conduct with identical disciplinary records. 

To be clear, Katie is not seeking to play tomorrow.  She wants her suspension overturned in time in the interests of justice, and the rules changed to make sure what happened to her does not happen to anyone else.

“I believe my tackle on Harriet Cordner was reasonable and I strongly disagree with the guilty finding,” Katie said.

“It is even more troubling to know that if I was a man playing in the AFL and was reported for the identical tackle, I would not have been suspended and I would be playing in a Grand final tomorrow. 

“The fight for gender equality is as every bit as important to me as the Grand Final and the decisions I have made reflect both of those priorities.”

Club CEO Ameet Bains said: “We are immensely proud of Katie and stand by her.  Our team will be doing its best to re-pay her faith in them tomorrow. 

“We share Katie’s view that her suspension was wrong and we will fully support her challenging the AFL Rules on the basis of gender discrimination.”

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Western Bulldogs acknowledge that we reside on traditional lands of the Kulin Nation. We offer our respect to the Elders of these traditional lands, and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples past, present and emerging.