AFL, Dockers: No penalties for Ballantyne’s phone use incident, only official warning

By @hoopsdontstop30 on

The Australian Football League (AFL) did not penalised Fremantle Dockers Hayden Ballantyne over his phone-use incident during a match last week, but the league handed an official warning to the 28-year-old and vowed a strong penalty in future instances.

An AFL investigation has proved that Ballantyne, who was caught on TV using his mobile phone during a preseason match against the Richmond Tigers last Friday, had only contacted family members. The league said in a statement the appropriate action is to give Ballantyne an official warning, but insisted any future cases would receive heavier penalties.

"While a formal warning was appropriate in the circumstances, all players and officials were on notice that the game's integrity rules must be fully complied with at all times, regarding the use of phones in restricted areas," the league said in a statement, reports the ABC. "A warning may not apply in future cases."

Ballantyne suffered a minor hamstring injury during the second quarter of the match in Mandurah and went to the rooms for treatment. A Fox Footy camera caught him talking on the mobile phone, sparking speculations about possible case of gambling. Under strict AFL rules, players are banned from using mobile phones or any communication devices during games to stamp out the leaking of information that could be used for betting.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan had spoken about the incident, saying that Ballantyne’s breach of the league’s conduct should act as a warning and a wakeup call to all footy players across the league.

"It's the first time we've had one of these … I think everyone instinctively feels he was calling family and friends,” McLachlan said, reports the league’s official website. "But there's only so many chances you get and (the) home and away (season) is different, and the context is different. There will be a significantly different outcome than I think will happen this time.”