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Crows admit breaking virus rules, await sanction

Football

The Adelaide Crows admit breaking AFL coronavirus protocols, and have apologised for a group of players training en masse.

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The Crows expect AFL sanctions after the group of players and assistant coach Ben Hart, who were meant to be self-isolating in the Barossa Valley, trained together on Thursday.

SA Police also investigated whether the Crows broke state rules which ban gatherings of more than 10 people, but SAPOL Commissioner Grant Stevens later told media: “My advice is that they’re being dealt with in an educated way rather than a punitive way.”

Sixteen Crows players and assistant coach Hart are at a golf resort in the Barossa Valley to serve a 14-day quarantine period after returning to SA from interstate.

Two groups of eight players trained together on Thursday, but the Crows deny they deliberately set out to circumvent AFL protocols which forbid training in groups larger than two players.

CEO Andrew Fagan told SEN Radio the club “had 16 players return from interstate [and] we had approval from SA police to train down at that facility, which is a 20-acre facility, so it’s got some ability for the players to not just be in their rooms but to move around and do some running and training”.

“But the expectation that was clearly articulated was to be in pairs and was to maintain social distancing,” he maintained.

“This was their first session there and it appears as though the communication about how the first session was to be conducted wasn’t anywhere near as clear as it needed to be… I saw a copy of it last night – it refers to social distancing, it refers to training in pairs, and they did that for a number of elements of the session.

“But for others they came together beyond their pairs, I think as a group of eight and they breached some of those social distancing rules – that’s what’s occurred.”

Fagan said it was “an honest mistake but a serious one” as the AFL tries to convince state leaders to relax restrictions enough to allow the season to restart.

“We understand where the industry’s at in these discussions and everyone’s pretty frustrated,” the CEO said.

Adelaide’s head of football Adam Kelly told SEN: “No-one is out there deliberately trying to flaunt rules.”

“Quite simply, we have got it wrong and we own our mistake,” he said.

“We certainly didn’t set out deliberately to break any rules.

“The AFL have been at pains to have the clubs and players and staff understand that during these times, we’re training under restriction and we train in pairs only.”

The AFL has set the maximum of two players training together while competition has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was uncertain whether the players involved would have to re-start their 14-day isolation periods or just what AFL penalty the Crows face.

“They (the AFL) are very disappointed, as you would expect that they would be,” Kelly said.

“The AFL have done a wonderful job in working with all state and territory governments … they have been at pains to have us understand our obligations, especially around the training protocols.

“This was a mistake that was made and should certainly not be seen as a representation of the broader industry.”

In SA, police have powers to issue fines for breaking the state’s mass gathering rules – individuals can be fined $1000 and businesses fined $5000.

The AFL was expected to announce next week a timetable for the resumption of competition, tipped to be in mid to late June.

-with AAP

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