St Kilda coach Scott Watters admits controversial forward Stephen Milne is judged differently to other AFL players.
And Collingwood’s Harry O’Brien, the target of the homophobic comment for which Milne was fined $3000 by the Saints, says he has been guilty of making similar remarks – although not on the field.
Milne’s slur came during Saturday night’s match at the MCG.
While Watters agreed the veteran needed to be penalised, he suggested Milne was subject to more aggravation than most players.
Watters was anxious to point out he was under extraordinary pressure during the match but said that wasn’t an excuse.
Asked whether the issue was highlighted because it involved Milne, Watters said: “I have an opinion on that but I’ll keep that to myself.
“Some players are probably judged a little differently to others, but that’s life.”
He said the pressure players were under during games was “almost impossible to comprehend”.
Watters said Milne cops an enormous amount of taunts from opposition supporters and had been frustrated by some umpiring decisions, including failing to receive a free kick for an elbow to his head.
“All those sorts of things, you still have a responsibility to control your actions,” Watters said.
“Ultimately you have a choice … so regardless whether we think it’s political correctness gone mad, or whatever, you control that as an individual.”
While Saturday’s comment was reported by an umpire, O’Brien did not complain.
“I didn’t take offence to it because I’m a very heterosexual guy,” the Magpie said.
He said he would have felt like a hypocrite had he dobbed Milne in.
“I’m not perfect, I put my hand up and say I’ve used words like that, not on the football field, but in general,” O’Brien told Melbourne’s Fox FM.
But the defender said Milne deserved his punishment.
“We need to be more sensitive. If you think we are being too politically correct then ask a homosexual person what they think about it,” he said.
Magpies teammate Dale Thomas said there was room for sledging on the field, but Milne had crossed a line.
Thomas, who earlier this year pointed out a Collingwood supporter for racially vilifying Gold Coast’s Joel Wilkinson, said players had to “pick and choose what you’re sledging about, who you’re sledging to.
“There’s certainly room for some smart comments, but down the lines of what has happened with Harry and also early on in the year, there’s no room for that in the AFL,” Thomas said.