TV host Waleed Aly has spoken out about the criticism he received for defending AFL star Bachar Houli.
The 29-year-old sportsman was found him guilty of intentionally striking opponent Jed Lamb in the head during Richmond’s clash with Carlton over the weekend.
But many were up in arms after the footballer received just a two-match suspension when he fronted the tribunal with a slew of character references, including one written by the Gold Logie winner.
Speaking on the Wednesday night’s episode of The Project, Aly backed his decision to help Houli.
“I got a call Monday night, he asked me if I would be prepared to be a character reference for him because the lawyers running the case said they thought it would be useful to have some,” he explained.
“I thought about it that night, I wrote it, sent it to them, that was the end of my involvement.”
“That is not an uncommon thing,” he continued.
“You get character references in courts all the time. The tribunals are based on a court. These are the rules that they have in place.”
“It’s not like this was something that was dreamed up by Richmond or by the lawyers or anything like that. It was a standard procedure.”
Speaking with Melbourne’s SEN breakfast, Aly also addressed claims Houli’s punishment was “ridiculously light.”
“His character precedes him,” he said.
“Everyone remarked on this being the last person you'd expect to see in the tribunal. Everyone was talking about what a ripping guy he is and what a remarkable contribution he makes to the clubs he plays for and the community he works in.”
“I don't think he was intending to punch anyone in the head and knock them out, because I know 'Bash' personally and I've spoken to him as well, I know he was devastated about that thought.
“I have very little doubt that he would have had zero intention to hurt him in any way he was just trying to play the game,” he added.
According to The Age, the AFL will be appealing the decision on Thursday.
This will be the first time it has appealed its own tribunal.
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