A senior AFL official says he is “deeply ashamed” of his behaviour after a serious on-field incident marred a suburban football match on Saturday.
AFL Diversity Manager Ali Fahour, who plays for West Preston-Lakeside in the Northern Football League, will plead guilty to a striking charge emanating from a match against Whittlesea.
Fahour – who was one of Bachar Houli’s character references in last week’s high-profile tribunal case – will front the Northern Football League’s tribunal on Wednesday and said on Monday that there was no excuse for his behaviour.
Watch the incident below
This is the moment AFL diversity manager Ali Fahour punches an opponent in a northern football league game on Saturday.
— Sam McClure (@sam_mcclure) July 3, 2017
“I am deeply ashamed of my actions. There is no explanation or excuse,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon.
“I accept that at no time is this kind of action acceptable on the football field or anywhere else.
“I’ll face the tribunal on Wednesday and plead guilty and make a formal apology to the Northern Football League, Dale Saddington, the Whittlesea Football Club and my team-mates.”
Fahour added that he understood “my actions reflect on my employer” and that he had apologised to the player struck, Saddington.
The AFL acknowledged the incident took place but said they would not comment further in a statement released to media on Monday afternoon.
“The AFL respects the role of the NFL Tribunal to handle this matter under its Rules and Regulations, and it is not appropriate for the AFL to comment in advance of the hearing,” they said.
The player struck, Dale Saddington, told The Age that he was “king hit” in an incident that left his family shocked.
“Just before he hits me, I got hit in the back of the ribs by number five, then I turned and then number 18 comes from nowhere and king hits me obviously,” he said.
“I’m pretty sore and swollen … my wife was right there, she always sits at that end of the ground.
“She can’t talk about it. She just starts crying every time it’s brought up.”
Saddington was asked by the Herald Sun if Fahour should keep his AFL job.
“No, I wouldn’t have thought so,” he said.
“It’s no different just because it’s on a footy field. You can’t just go whacking blokes from behind.”
Fahour is the brother of Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour.
The West Preston-Lakeside player was used as a character reference last week as Houli faced a charge of striking Carlton player Jed Lamb.
Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly was also a reference for the Richmond player, who also had supportive quotes from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull taken into account when the AFL Tribunal initially handed him a two-week suspension.
That was later slammed as “manifestly inadequate” by the AFL, though, who appealed the decision , resulting in Houli’s penalty being doubled to four matches.
According to the AFL’s official website, Ali Fahour has been the league’s diversity manager since 2012.
Ali Fahour has already been suspended once for striking this season and in 2012, according to The Age, was charged with misconduct for leaving the field of play during a match.