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Jason Mifsud’s position at the AFL is untenable

Michael DiFabrizio Columnist

By Michael DiFabrizio, Michael DiFabrizio is a Roar Expert

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    Is Jason Mifsud now a liability for the AFL? (Slattery Images)

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    When former recruiting manager Matt Rendell asked Adelaide for the chance to explain his side of the story, he was asked instead to resign. “The mud would stick,” was the club’s argument.

    Jason Mifsud had his fingerprints all over that saga and now, ironically, he’s found himself in a situation where the mud is going to stick because of his own actions.

    Mifsud, the AFL multicultural boss, admitted on Tuesday to discussing false accusations that Melbourne coach Mark Neeld dealt with Indigenous players differently to other players. These claims ended up published by Grant Thomas in a ninemsn blog.

    On the back of the Rendell saga, where comments made in a private conversation ended up as headline news via Mifsud, questions need to be asked.

    For someone in such an important position tackling such an important issue, one would think trust would be an essential personal attribute.

    But that isn’t the case with Mifsud, at least according to 100-game AFL player Dean Rioli.

    “Everyone I speak to (say) he’s very untrustworthy,” Rioli told SEN this week. “If you’ve got someone that’s untrustworthy, you can’t resolve anything privately and then you’ve got a serious issue.”

    “If he’s going to run to the media every single time that someone comes to him with a question … I wouldn’t go and speak with him because I would be afraid that it would go straight to the headlines.”

    Today, his communication was also brought into question with some damning revelations in the Herald Sun.

    “Aaron Davey hasn’t been able to talk to […] Mifsud for two days despite being revealed as the alleged source of a lie that linked his coach Mark Neeld to racist behaviour,” reported Mark Robinson.

    “The Demons would not comment last night, but Davey is said to be angry he cannot contact Mifsud about the disputed comments. Mifsud did not name Davey, but it is known he has been identified as the source at AFL headquarters. Davey sought to speak to Mifsud on Tuesday night and again last night, but failed. […]

    “Davey’s inability to raise Mifsud follows Mifsud’s failure for three weeks to return calls to Melbourne chief executive Cameron Schwab after the club was advised by AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson that an issue had emerged and Schwab should speak to Mifsud.

    “The Demons say Mifsud did not return calls and tweets.

    “Mifsud received a formal warning from AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou for leaking the allegations, which he had not verified, against Neeld to friend Grant Thomas, who then repeated them in a column.

    “Demetriou also said on Tuesday: ‘It’d be fair to say Jason should have probably returned a couple of calls.’”

    It’s just not good enough. Not returning calls that could have defused the issue, and instead going to the media without any form of confirmation, is a poor way to handle an issue that’s both sensitive and damaging to the game’s reputation.

    Obviously, there’s a reason Demetriou refused to accept his offer to resign this week. That is a testament to all the good work he would’ve done within the AFL up until this point.

    But when there are several very public examples which paint Mifsud as untrustworthy (leaking private conversations) and unprofessional (not returning phone calls, even to a key stakeholder), then the mud is going to stick.

    Harsh, maybe, but just like with Rendell, it seems the only option.

    Michael DiFabrizio
    Michael DiFabrizio

    Michael DiFabrizio is based in Mildura, Victoria. He has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, leading to appearances on ABC News 24 and in the Age. Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelDiFab.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • April 5th 2012 @ 8:06am
      brendan said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      What Dean Rioli said is the critical issue here if Mifsud cannot be trusted no – one will confide in him and in effect he wont be able to do the job he is paid too.Micheal you have got to the crux of this issue and as your headline reads Mifsuds future at the Afl is untenable.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 11:50am
        Australian Rules said | April 5th 2012 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        That’s exactly right.

        You can just imagine…every room Mifsud walks into suddenly goes deathly quiet. That’s untenable.

      • April 6th 2012 @ 2:17pm
        Westie said | April 6th 2012 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

        Put another slant on it, do you reckon he would still be there if he was a Caucasian? Of course not, he would have went straight out the door like Matt Rendell.

        A very hypocritical society we live in. Am saddened by where Australia has gotten to. How hard is it to migrate to Switzerland?

    • Roar Guru

      April 5th 2012 @ 8:14am
      Redb said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Mifsud needs to stand down at the very least until the air is cleared. Demetriou’s protection has been more harmful than anything as the double standard displayed with the Rendell sacking is ringing across AFL circles and the public is causing even more angst.

      He can’t be trusted as Rendell found out. Why didn’t Mifsud counsel Rendell there and then he would know Rendell is not a racist or mean spirited. There is an element of karma here.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 10:14am
        GrantS said | April 5th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Agree 100%.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 11:08am
        Justin said | April 5th 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Agree Red.

        AD said on SEN that Thomas was in the wrong for printing the remarks and that there was no integrity in their conversation. Well surely there was no integrity in Rendells conversation either with Mifsud. If he was so offended by what Rendell had said why did it take 3 weeks before he told someone.

        If I were in Rendells position and Mifsud was my mate (as apparently they were) I would be furious that our conversations were reported to the AFL management team.

        AD is the other person in all of this who is losing credibility. He starts all his interviews quite calm so that he can get his view across. Once that view is challenged he fires up, cuts people off and doesnt listen to reason at all. The interview with Watson and SEN on Wednesday morning was a case in point.

        • Roar Guru

          April 5th 2012 @ 3:24pm
          Redb said | April 5th 2012 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

          Yes I heard that interview on SEN with Watson, AD spun a whole blanket of cover up. Interestingly I also heard on AFL360 the replay of AD’s interview with Neil Mitchell who he obviously respects and as Mitchell hit him with the same hard to deny questions he almost agreed.

    • Columnist

      April 5th 2012 @ 9:58am
      Brett McKay said | April 5th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      Michael, you’re spot on here. there’s just no way Mifsud can continue in this role now after two fairly major events this year trace back to him. If Matt Rendell couldn’t hold his job, then there’s no way Mifsud can continue in his now, either..

    • April 5th 2012 @ 11:36am
      Saint Jack said | April 5th 2012 @ 11:36am | ! Report

      I’m a believer in the old adage, “where there is smoke there is fire”. While I agree Mifsud’s position is untenable, because of trust issues; I also believe that something is not quite right in the Melbourne camp. Yes, Misfud should have returned calls, but if he went so far as to name Aaron Davey as his source and having contacted the club about the issue, there must be something to it all. Mark Neeld is showing an amazing lack of curiosity about the source. Mifsud can’t be that much of an idiot to actually name a source if that person did not speak to him about the situation at Melbourne. Curiouser and curiouser.

    • April 5th 2012 @ 12:17pm
      todd said | April 5th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

      i agree and if there is a skerrick of evidence that Neeld did segregate the player group at any stage he needs to go. Aaron Davey may hold the key to proving that.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 1:07pm
        Adrian said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        Surely we need more than a “skerrick of evidence “, I would have thought a solid case would be required before terminating a mans career.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 9:33pm
        anopinion said | April 5th 2012 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

        Tell us why? Your thoughts on this will interest many.

    • April 5th 2012 @ 1:31pm
      Bayman said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

      With friends like Jason Mifsud – or indeed, Jason Misfud – who needs enemies?

      Perhaps now he has some sympathy for the position in which he put Matt Rendell. It will be interesting to see if he has Rendell’s integrity and courage – and resign.

      At the rate he’s going he’s fast running out of friends who he hasn’t yet dropped in the muck. Sounds like a great bloke to have around. Still, while he’s making life a bit difficult for himself now in the 21st century, his habit of passing on private conversations to others in positions of power who can do something about it would have made him a huge hit in Nazi Germany.

      I guess it really is true – timing is everything!

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