Carey Gets the Boot

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If Sept. 11 taught us to put current affairs in perspective, the lesson has worn off in Melbourne, which is shaking from events within its quasi religion of Australian Rules football. In a city where strangers tell you which team they support in the same breath as "hello," news that Wayne Carey, one of Australia's highest-profile footballers, was leaving the game in disgrace has led bulletins, dominated talkback radio and had seasoned commentators using words like "catastrophe" and "tragedy."

While tragedy's a bit rich, the story is a scandal with the lot. At a March 10 party, "King" Carey was caught in a lewd bathroom encounter with the wife of his vice-captain, close mate Anthony Stevens; both Stevens and Carey's wife of one year, Sally, were at the party; the Stevenses have a baby daughter; Sally Carey was hospitalized for stress after her husband admitted to her the next day that his affair with Kelli Stevens had been going on since last year.

Kangaroo players decided they could no longer play with their captain, and a tearful Carey, 30, quit the sport for at least a year. He's hardly the first Melburnian to succumb to an ancient temptation. But for now, in a football-mad city, Carey may be a bigger pariah than the terrorists he's pushed off the front pages.

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