Fox Footy pundits have called for those at the Adelaide Football Club responsible for the infamous 2018 pre-season camp to take accountability for the wrongdoings, saying the “cover-up is the issue” and the misuse of players’ personal information is “harrowing. ”
Shocking new details of the pre-season camp emerged this week in Eddie Betts’ recently released biography, while fellow former Crows Josh Jenkins and Bryce Gibbs also spoke out on their distressing experiences.
While Crows CEO Tim Silvers, who wasn’t at Adelaide in 2018, apologized to Betts, five-time All-Australian Nick Riewoldt believes current club bosses shouldn’t necessarily wear the brunt of the criticism given many weren’t at West Lakes at the time.
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“I don’t know if it’s necessarily about punishing the Adelaide Crows. Because a lot of the people who were at the Adelaide Crows at the time have moved on. So is it fair to punish the Crows?” I have posed.
“I think the responsible people need to put their hand up and actually show some accountability. There were people saying in the aftermath, ‘we laugh at the some of the things we hear about the noise around the camp.’ Well it clearly wasn’t a laughing matter, it was a really, really serious matter.
“Those that were responsible for the investigation and actions need to be held accountable.
“I think actually putting your hand up and being on record and explaining why and how. And why the cover up? Why has it taken four years for this to happen and reach the point that it is.”
Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley agreed that concealing the details of what happened is most damning and concerned players were pressured into staying silent.
“The cover-up is the issue, because I’ve got no doubt the leadership of the Adelaide Football Club didn’t think they were going to undermine the fabric of the organisation,” he said.
“When you hear the anecdotes of the players and the way that information was used, it’s harrowing.
“It seemed to me the way the exit was planned, saying, ‘this is how you should talk about this,’ that there was an element of keeping that in the same little (group).
“Collective Minds, who were the outside facilitators, they’ve been quite litigious with this. They’ve slapped, rigged and tried to quiet this down. I’ve got no doubt it’s been very difficult for the Adelaide Football Club to be fully transparent in some ways, because of the litigious nature of the third party, and that makes it pretty tough for them.”
Triple-premiership winning Lion Jonathan Brown says it highlights the risks of bringing “outside facilitators” into a footy club.
“At the end of the day if that’s the player’s experience and that’s the way they perceived what happened, you have to take those things on face value,” the ex-Brisbane skipper said.
“It’s a great lesson, you need to get on the front foot and you need to apologize and own up to your mistakes, because people make mistakes all the time.
“I’m not sure about outside facilitators, you’ve got to be careful you bring outside facilitators into your football club. You’ve certainly got to check their CV and make sure what their reputation is and experience, because that was a bad decision for the club to bring them in.”
The AFLPA (Players Association) this week indicated it would effectively reopen its investigation into the pre-season event and contact all players for a “better understanding” of what occurred, saying it would’ve taken more immediate action had it known all the information from the outlet.
However Riewoldt questioned why the players union didn’t probe the incident more thoroughly four years ago.
“Why wasn’t it investigated properly? The people who represent the players — the Players Association — why didn’t they fight the fight properly for the players back then?” I have posed.
“They’re all questions that need answering… a lot of people have let them (the players) down. But if the Players Association don’t exist to fight for the players in situations like this to protect the players then what do they exist for?”
Former Adelaide coach and current Swans assistant Don Pyke also apologized for the 2018 pre-season camp amid growing scrutiny for his role in it.
Pyke departed the Crows at the end of 2019 and has been linked to several coaching vacancies amid praise for his impact at the Swans, admitting the idea of being a senior boss again was enticing.
Asked if it hurts his future coaching aspirations, Brown said: “It does at the moment, whether it does in years down the track.”
Buckley agreed that “in some ways it does” affect Pyke’s chances in the short term, but pointed out that other coaches have previously pushed the boundaries with programs.
“You think back to legendary coaches of the past, I reckon if you got the worst things they’d done… there’s probably been some pretty average things players have been exposed to in the view of building resilience and being tougher and drawing the group together,” he said.
“Not all of them have gone right.”