Sydney’s Elijah Taylor suspended for remainder of AFL season for COVID-19 protocol breach

The AFL has suspended Sydney Swans player Elijah Taylor for the rest of the season after breaching the league’s return to play protocols.

Taylor breached protocols after his partner entered the Swans’ quarantine accommodation in Western Australia when not authorised to do so.

It constituted not only a breach of the AFL return to play protocols but also the Western Australian COVID-19 quarantine directions that apply to Swans players and officials at their quarantine accommodation.

The Swans have been sanctioned $50,000 for the breach, with $25,000 of that amount suspended.

The $25,000 will be included in the Swans’ 2021 soft cap.

The Swans released a statement saying the club was made aware on Friday night that Taylor’s partner had visited the resort where the squad had been undertaking a 14-day quarantine period.

The club immediately notified the AFL and WA Police.

“We’re extremely disappointed to be in this position as our staff and players are all well aware of both the AFL protocols and the restrictions we are required to adhere to while in quarantine,” Swans chief executive Tom Harley said in the statement.

“We also appreciate that the circumstances of this year are unique and challenging for everyone, and we will continue to provide support to Elijah, as well as our other staff and players who are away from their families.

“The club would like to unreservedly apologise to the WA community. Clearly the restrictions we are adhering to are designed to protect the community and any breach is unacceptable.”

WA Police told the Swans Taylor could continue his quarantine with the team, while his partner will also be required to quarantine for 14 days.

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the league was justified to hand Taylor a heavy punishment.

“The actions by Elijah not only breach the AFL’s protocols, but made it a police matter by breaching the Western Australian COVID-19 quarantine directions,” he said.

“When in quarantine the rules are clear and there is no excuse for this breach.”

Taylor, 19, made his AFL debut with the Swans earlier this season and has played four matches.

His suspension is the latest sanction handed down by the AFL for breaches of its return to play protocols.

Collingwood was hit with an effective $25,000 fine after senior coach Nathan Buckley and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson broke coronavirus protocols by playing a tennis match with people outside their club contacts.

The AFL also handed four clubs — Hawthorn, Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond — fines totalling almost $200,000 for protocol breaches late last month.

Hawthorn was fined $50,000, with half of that amount suspended for the remainder of the season.

Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond received $45,000 fines, $25,000 of which is suspended.