SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27: Richmond players appeal to AFL Field Umpire, John Howorth for a controversial 50m penalty after the siren which was not awarded during the 2022 AFL Round 11 match between the Sydney Swans and the Richmond Tigers at the Sydney Cricket Ground on May 27, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Sydney Swans, Collingwood Magpies, Richmond Tigers, Brisbane Lions and St Kilda Saints have all been heavily fined by the AFL for breaching COVID protocols in regards to testing of players.

The AFL revealed on Tuesday evening that they have completed an audit into compliance of players and football program staff related to testing and reporting under COVID-19 protocols put in place by the league.

The AFL noted a number of issues at the five clubs as follows:

  • Not undertaking a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within the period prescribed by the Protocols, and/or
  • Not uploading an image (photograph) of a prescribed RAT within the period prescribed by the Protocols; and/or
  • Uploading an image taken of a previous RAT undertaken by that or another person.

Importantly, the investigation found none of the five clubs gained a competitive advantage through their non-compliance, however, all five have been hit with fines.

The Sydney Swans have been hit hardest, with a $100,000 fine - of which half is to be included on their 2022 or 2023 soft cap.

Collingwood have been fined $50,000, and Richmond $25,000 both clubs to have half of which included on their 2022 or 2023 soft cap.

Brisbane and St Kilda have both been fined $25,000 for non-compliance, however, the whole amount has been suspended and will only apply to any further sanctions.

The AFL said they took into account the number of instances of non-compliance, the period of time over which the non-compliance was recorded and any previous breaches in assessing the severity of the penalty each of the clubs would face.

List of AFL sanctions

Sydney Swans - $100,000 fine, with $50,000 to be included in the 2022 or 2023 soft cap
Collingwood Magpies - $50,000 fine, with $25,000 to be included in the 2022 or 2023 soft cap
Richmond Tigers - $25,000 fine, with $12,500 to be included in the 2022 or 2023 soft cap
Brisbane Lions - Reprimand and $25,000 fully suspended fine
St Kilda Saints - Reprimand and $25,000 fully suspended fine

The AFL's general counsel and EGM of football Andrew Dillon said the game had only survived because of the discipline displayed during the pandemic.

“Across the last two and a half years our game and our industry has survived because we have collectively led the way in being disciplined and respecting the threat the pandemic presented, which in turn protected the health and safety of our people – our clubs, our players, coaches and officials, our staff and – most importantly – our families, friends, workmates and the wider community.” Dillon said.

“We established a framework in 2022 for clubs to take more responsibility in managing their own people in relation to regular Covid testing. While 13 of the clubs complied with the requirements, the five clubs failed to comply as required and the sanctions they have been handed reflect the seriousness that we take in relation to the health and safety of players, staff and the wider community.”

“Collectively we have worked together as an industry to navigate through the pandemic and no one in our system is above adhering to the protocols and protecting the health and well-being of their fellow workmates and the wider community.”

“All clubs have since been issued a reminder about their obligations under the rules.”