The AFL’s crackdown on dissent continued to raise eyebrows in the Western Bulldogs’ 48-point win over Collingwood on Friday night.
Two incidents in particular have left several of the biggest names in the game throwing hard-hitting criticism at the AFL.
Bulldogs youngster Buku Khamis was the first player to concede a 50-yard penalty when he threw his arms up at the referee after not receiving a free kick when he was knocked out of a contest marking.
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“Go ahead. It’s not 50 yards,” Richmond legend Matthew Richardson said in a comment for Seven.
“You have to pay them all then. It’s just ridiculous.
“I feel for them sometimes. It’s an emotional game. They’re not robots.”
But it was a decision to ping Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey for the same offense as Khamis in the fourth quarter that had many viewers and pundits throwing up their arms.
In De Goey’s example, the Collingwood striker raised his arms for a brief moment before quickly lowering them.
St Kilda great Leigh Montagna says De Goey showed enough restraint to avoid the hefty penalty.
“That’s what we want to see from players – restraint – and he brought it down to himself, he did exactly what we wanted with that rule and yet it’s still paid 50,” said Montagna on Fox Footy.
“For five weeks we haven’t seen them get paid at all, so that’s the confusion. Why all of a sudden? There was a big concentration after the third round and then it went away.”
Meanwhile, Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall agreed De Goey’s example was stiff but said it was hard to blame the referees based on the previous set.
“I thought De Goey in particular was a bit stiff because he was about to go and then literally got harnessed up and stopped, but you could see at the start that he was about to lift arms,” Dunstall said.
“If you’re going to try so hard to get out, I think you’re entitled to a little leeway.
“That’s where it’s really, really difficult.
“They’re giving instructions to the referees, so let’s not be hard on them either. If you see the arms going up, that’s a form of dissent, but it’s hard to expect the players to turn the lights off completely. emotion from the whistle.”
The AFL’s crackdown on dissent against referees was introduced at the start of the season.
AFL Chief Football Officer Brad Scott has repeatedly throughout the season backed the stance, while encouraging referees to continue to draw players for substandard behaviour.
“It’s up to us at the elite level to set the standards of behavior for all levels of the game,” Scott said in April.
“We have failed as a football community and dissent towards referees during matches has become an issue at all levels of the game, especially at the community level where we are short of 6,000 referees.
“Respect for referees and the sanctioning of players for dissenting is strongly supported by everyone in football – including football presidents, CEOs, coaches and managers.
“Our message to players is that when a referee pays a free kick, accept it and move on, and our message to referees is that we encourage you to continue paying free kicks or 50m penalties where the players expressed their disagreement.
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