SYDNEY • A topless photo scandal that has gripped Australia's biggest spectator sport for weeks came to a head yesterday with a player banned for three games and the woman involved left traumatised.
Richmond Tigers' Nathan Broad was revealed as the Australian Football League (AFL) player who distributed the picture on social media of the bare-chested woman wearing his winner's medal after the club's 2017 Grand Final triumph.
He did not have her permission to share the photo, which did not show the woman's face, and it went viral, sparking frenzied media and public speculation about who was involved.
Broad, 24, fronted a news conference yesterday with club president Peggy O'Neal to "take full responsibility for what I've done".
In a statement read out by the player, he said he was "ashamed" and "embarrassed" but passed off the decision to send "a very private picture without this young woman's consent" as a "very bad, drunken" one.
"Most of all I let down a young woman who I cared about - a young woman who I spent time with before the Grand Final, and a young woman who I like and respected." Broad had told the woman that he deleted the photo, after she had asked him to do so.
The woman released a statement yesterday through her lawyers, saying she trusted Broad and was "shocked and extremely confused" when the photo went viral.
The statement also emphasised that she did not continue with the investigation because she wanted to avoid "further attention and distress" and "protect her identity".
O'Neal said the club was "committed to gender equity and respect, and we find these actions to be completely unacceptable".
"We're incredibly sorry for the distress Nathan's actions have caused the young woman, who deserved better," she added.
She said Broad would be barred from playing in the Tigers' first three matches of the 2018 season.
The length of the ban drew the ire of some AFL fans on social media, with suggestions that the punishment was incommensurate with the club's purported commitment to gender equity and respect.
Earlier this month, the Australian government launched an online portal to report "revenge porn" after research showed women were having intimate images shared without their permission on a "mass scale".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN