How Sydney’s handling of Elijah Taylor laid out the blueprint for clubs

Elijah Taylor's career with the Sydney Swans is over. Picture: sydneyswans.com.au

The playing career of Elijah Taylor is over after the Sydney Swans decided to cut the 19-year-old after less than a full year in the AFL system.

The Swans made the decision to sack Taylor following assault charges levied at him by former partner Lekahni Prince.

In a statement released by the club on Monday afternoon, the club said Taylor’s “actions could not be reconciled.”

“The situation Elijah and the club has found itself in is deeply regrettable. Elijah has made some very poor decisions which have led us to this point, and he acknowledges that,” Swans football boss Charlie Gardiner said in a club statement.

“This is certainly not a position we have arrived at lightly, however Elijah’s actions could not be reconciled.

“It is obviously a sensitive situation and a legal process is still to play out, but in working with Elijah and his management, our collective view was that the right call for both Elijah and the club is to part ways. We have also consulted with the AFLPA and appreciate the support James Gallagher and his team has provided during the process.

“This has been an incredibly difficult situation for Elijah, his family, and those involved. We are keen to see Elijah receive ongoing education and support in the hope that he can mature and learn from this experience, make better decisions in the future, and take steps towards rebuilding his career.”

Taylor is due to face the courts on December 2.

The Swans showed why they’re the best in the business

It was a move the AFL wasn’t prepared to make, but the Swans – who have long been the benchmark in setting cultural standards on and off the field – unconsciously provided the blueprint for clubs going forward when dealing with these types of transgressions.

From the moment they decided it was inappropriate for Taylor to continue playing back in mid-September to the decision to end his Sydney career, the Swans have kept the public informed and acted in a manner befitting the serious nature of these crimes.

In the end, the Swans decided doing what was right was more important than winning games of football.

This would not have been an easy decision for the Swans to come to based solely on Taylor’s talent, but a simple one based on the charges.

Taylor was recruited to Sydney with pick 36 in the 2019 AFL Draft. He played four games for the club and showed considerable promise, kicking one of the goals of the year in round 8 against Hawthorn.

In the end, the Swans decided doing what was right was more important than winning games of football.

It’s something that other clubs, and the AFL in particular, have been unwilling to do – but the Swans’ actions should set the precedent for how these cases are treated going forward.

Like it or not, professional athletes are held to a higher standard than the rest of society, and while the pre-tense of “innocent until proven guilty” applies to every citizen facing the courts, domestic violence charges should be treated differently when they are in the public eye.

Sydney’s handling of this situation once again proved why they are one of the best run clubs in the AFL. They showed due respect to the victim while setting standards for the rest of their playing group that already should be non-negotiable.

As football fans we cry out for consistency – and this is one instance where AFL clubs should be get themselves on the same page and implement the Sydney blueprint from here on in.

It is the least they can do to respect the victims of these horrendous crimes.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence please contact White Ribbon Australia

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