Aussie soccer stars banned after team sex scandal
Four Olyroos players have been handed lengthy bans from representing Australia after being found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute over an incident involving a woman on tour.
Melbourne City pair Nathaniel Atkinson and Lachlan Wales, and Perth defender Brandon Wilson, have all been banned from national team selection until August 10, meaning they will miss the Olympics even if Australia qualifies, while Adelaide United midfielder Riley McGree has been suspended until April 1.
All four will also have to undertake education courses and counselling "as directed by FFA". Though McGree would be eligible for the actual Olympics if Australia makes it, he will miss the qualifying tournament in January - where he would have been captain.
The four players learned their penalties on Tuesday, eight months after the incident which came in the hours after Australia's final game at the AFC U-23 Championship qualifying tournament in Cambodia.
A 2-2 draw meant the Olyroos had reached the final round of Olympic qualifying, and the players had been allowed a short celebration afterwards.
But it's understood that the four broke the curfew imposed by coach Graham Arnold, though did not leave their hotel. One of the players had been in contact with a woman via Tinder and invited her into the hotel, where she had consensual sex with the players.
There was no suggestion of any assault or coercion.
In a complaint made to the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh a week later, the woman went on to say she was kicked out of the hotel by the players straight afterwards, after seeking assurances that no photographs had been taken.
Though that complaint was later withdrawn, it had automatically been passed onto Sport Australia and then to FFA, which commenced an independent investigation over several months.
On Tuesday the players were told the FFA Board had found them guilty of "unprofessional conduct", and had handed down what are undoubtedly severe penalties.
"These sanctions are commensurate to the nature of the breaches of the National Code of Conduct which is in place to safeguard both the players and the reputation of Australian football," said FFA Chairman Chris Nikou.
"Upholding our commitment to respect and responsibility cannot be compromised. Our game is built on equality, inclusivity and respect and these are values that we will continue to uphold.
"The players have understood the gravity of their actions and have positively commenced respectful relationship programs that will ensure they appreciate these values in the future."