Clarkson under AFL scrutiny for ‘inappropriate’ comment

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson will have to explain himself to the AFL after his outburst.

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson will have to explain himself to the AFL after his outburst. Photo: AAP

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson will have to explain himself to the AFL over his expletive-laden and “inappropriate” outburst towards St Kilda’s Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard.

Clarkson was incensed after Webster’s high, late bump on Jy Simpkin in Sunday’s practice match left the Kangaroos co-captain in concussion protocols and the Saints defender with an imminent tribunal hearing.

The coach reportedly used the word “c*******er” during an exchange of words with Webster and fellow Saints defender Howard at quarter-time.

Clarkson has already apologised, but he has been issued with a “please explain” from the AFL regarding the exchange and the alleged homophobic slur.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon took a dim view of the incident.

“Senior coaches or officials approaching players at breaks in play isn’t something that we want to see anyway,” Dillon said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

AFL chief Andrew Dillon
AFL chief Andrew Dillon says coaches and officials should not approach players at breaks in play. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)
“When you overlay what’s been reported, it’s language that Alastair has already come out and said it’s inappropriate, it’s something I don’t like, and we don’t need it in our game.

“We don’t want to get ahead of the process, so what we do is provide a ‘please explain’ and give Alastair the opportunity to come back to us.

“We’ll talk to St Kilda, and once we’ve got all that information we’ll look at that and weigh it against what our rules are and then deal with it that way.”

Clarkson had said he was “deeply disturbed” by the Webster bump on Simpkin, who has a recent concussion history.

“At the quarter-time break I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter-time huddle,” he said.

“This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary, and the language I used was inappropriate.

“I have reached out to (Saints coach) Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise.”

Suns counterpart and Clarkson’s close friend Damien Hardwick said: “Look, Clarko will be apologetic.

“The language he used is obviously not on and he accepts that.

“But when they’re your players, they’re your boys, they’re like your children. You get very protective of those guys.

“And that’s not to say that you should overstep the line, but the reality is every now and then we’re going to do it.”

Carlton coach Michael Voss understood Clarkson’s protectiveness towards Simpkin.

But he added: “We can also understand that that’s probably just a little bit too far and we probably do need to keep our emotions in check there.”

Clarkson has a lengthy history of fiery moments, including needing to be held back from Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd after he broke Hawk Brad Sewell’s cheekbone with a bump in 2009.

He also punched through the MCG coaching box wall in 2012.

In 2017, he was fined $20,000 by the AFL ($15,000 suspended) after he said he could not comment on “disgraceful umpiring” in Hawthorn’s loss to Gold Coast.

Last February, he apologised for a heated confrontation with a TV reporter.


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