On 19 March 2014 Football Federation of Australia issued a Disciplinary Notice to Western Sydney Wanderers player Brendon Santalab. Santalab was cited to appear before a Disciplinary Tribunal in relation to the use of discriminatory language and/or gestures including racist, religious and ethnic language and gestures.

Sydney FC player Ali Abbas lodged a complaint with the FFA on 10 March alleging that Santalab had used language towards him that was racist and infringed his religious beliefs and ethnic background during the Sydney Derby match played on 8 March at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The matter was heard by the Disciplinary Committee of the FFA in a lengthy contested hearing.

Insufficient evidence

On 10 April 2014 the Disciplinary Committee issued a Determination in which Brendon Santalab was cleared of all of the matters in the citation on the basis of insufficient evidence.

Western Sydney Wanderers and Brendon Santalab retained Turner Freeman to defend the matter on Brendon’s behalf.

“I am pleased for Brendon that the matter is over. These issues are difficult for everyone. They can have a very adverse effect on a player’s reputation regardless of the result. Long term damage can easily be caused to a good reputation despite the fact that the player has been cleared” said Mr McClelland.

Turner Freeman is a business partner and corporate sponsor of the Western Sydney Wanderers FC.