Bulldogs AFL legend Bob Murphy reveals his ‘disgust’ at ex-teammate Jason Akermanis’s controversial comments on gay players – and why he refuses to even say his name 13 years later
- Akermanis wrote gay AFL stars should ‘stay in the closet’
- Was sacked by the Western Bulldogs two months later
- Murphy has called for closeted players to come forward
Western Bulldogs AFL star Bob Murphy has broken a 13-year silence on former teammate Jason Akermanis and the controversial newspaper column he wrote that led to him being sacked from the club.
Akermanis was a talented but polarising figure in his AFL career with the Brisbane Lions and the Bulldogs, stirring up controversy in 2010 when he wrote about homosexuality in sport.
The three-time premiership winner’s column carried the headline ‘stay in the closet’ and urged gay AFL players to remain mute or they would have to carry the ‘burden’ of being the first player in the league to come out as openly gay.
To this day, no player has come out.
Akermanis was a prodigious talent but was also polarising during a long caeer with the Bisbane Lions and Bulldogs
Former Western Bulldogs player Bob Murphy (pictured front, right) has spoken out against Akermanis and his column
At the time Akermanis doubled down on the comments made in the column, telling Channel Nine that he felt gay players would be targeted if they did come out.
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‘There’s been a little bit of a gay hunting going on where we’re trying to get people to come out,’ he told the Nine Network today.
‘I’m not sure that’s very safe and healthy for the competition. What you do in your private life is your business.’
Akermanis was sacked by the Bulldogs two months after the column was published.
Now, in a Four Corners report on homosexuality in footy, former teammate Murphy has lashed Akermanis for his actions – and still refuses to call him by name.
‘I was disgusted, I was embarrassed and I was hurt,’ Murphy said.
‘But then the hurt took a turn – ‘what if one of my teammates is gay?
‘I did want to get on record with the author (Akermanis) and say — I think what I said to him was — ‘that abhorrent sh*t that you wrote in the paper’.
‘For me, in that time of my life, I was like ‘we’re done’.’
Murphy refuses to call Akermanis by name to this day and slammed his former teammate for his newspaper column after 13 years of silence
Akermanis is not backing down on his stance today and doesn’t care who he upsets in the process
Akermanis – now working as a real estate agent in Brisbane – is not backing down on his stance in 2023, either.
‘I got branded everything – homophobic, you name it,’ he said.
”Just because I write about it and you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean… I’m scared of gay people, which is just complete crap.
‘Look, I personally don’t care one way or the other. As long as you don’t sort of throw it in my face or tell me where I’m not interested. I don’t go around telling people what I do in my private life.’
‘Why would you bother. We don’t care, it’s up to you. Why would you want to? Think about it. Is it worth it? They’re good questions to ask. You’ve got to weigh it up. It is a heavy burden.’
Reporter Louise Milligan then asked: ‘There were people who disagreed with what you said. What about the people who were hurt by what you said?’
Akermanis replied: ‘I always say to anyone that’s hurt, that’s your issue, that’s your problem. If you need to seek counselling go and do it.’
Murphy mad an impassioned plea to any current closeted AFL players to come out, saying they would be supported by the players and the league.
‘You will be fought for and supported,’ the former Bulldogs captain said.
‘If there was a dissenting voice, they would told to shut the f*** up or get out.’