Wil Powell in action during Gold Coast's clash with Hawthorn in round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast defender Wil Powell has been handed a five-game suspension by the AFL for making a homophobic slur against a Brisbane player last Sunday night.

The AFL Integrity Unit has been investigating the matter since being made aware of the incident on Monday, following the incident in the QClash at the Gabba.

Powell has been found guilty of breaching AFL Rule 2.3(a) and been hit with a lengthy suspension for conduct unbecoming, which rules him out until round 14 and also prevents him from playing in the VFL.


He will miss games against North Melbourne, Geelong, Carlton, Essendon and St Kilda. The Suns then have the bye in round 14, meaning he won't be available for selection again until the round 15 game against Fremantle on June 23.

Powell's ban comes just a month after Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson was banned for a homophobic slur against an Essendon player in round four.

Finlayson was banned for three matches and was directed to undertake a Pride in Sport education course at his own cost. He will return to Port's senior side this week.

The AFL opted for a harsher penalty for Powell given the proximity to the Finlayson incident in the hope this will deter similar conduct in the future.

"It is extremely disappointing to be dealing with a similar incident in only a matter of weeks," AFL general counsel Stephen Meade said.

"The AFL acknowledges Powell's remorse and cooperation, and while it has considered the circumstances in which the comment was made, there are no excuses for this conduct in our game.

"We foreshadowed both publicly and privately that after what transpired at Gather Round if a similar incident was to happen, there would be further consequence.

"There could be no clearer message - homophobia has no place in our game, nor in society. We want all people in the community to feel welcomed in our game and comments such as Powell's only takes away from this. As a code, as a community, we all must be better."

Powell said he had realised the gravity of his actions immediately on Sunday night. 

"As soon as the word came out of my mouth, I knew I had made a terrible mistake," Powell said.

"I have offered my apology to the Brisbane player and would like to publicly apologise for my comment. I will take full responsibility for what I said.

"I know there is no place for comments of that nature and I will accept the repercussions for my actions. I should have known better and I need to prove this with my actions moving forward."

Gold Coast's co-captain Touk Miller spoke upon the team's arrival in Darwin ahead of their two-game stint in the Top End, saying Powell's comments were "unacceptable".

"As a club we can't stand for that," Miller said.

"What he said was unacceptable, but Powelly has our full support. He's obviously very sorry for what he did, he's very remorseful.

"We stand by him in terms of support, but what he said is unacceptable."

Wil Powell in action during Gold Coast's clash with Brisbane in round eight, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was fined $20,000 and hit with a suspended two-game sanction for an outburst directed towards St Kilda pair Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard during the AAMI Community Series.

Powell is viewed as a long-term part of the plans at Gold Coast and turned his back on free agency earlier this year by signing a four-year extension that locks him in at the suns until at least the end of 2029.  

The 24-year-old has played 95 games for Gold Coast since being selected at pick No. 19 in the 2017 AFL Draft.

- with Michael Whiting