Leading lights have backed the AFL’s controversial tightened crackdown on dissent, but a grassroots umpire says he is “dreading” the fall-out and believes the “cure is worse than the disease”.
On Tuesday, AFL football head Brad Scott brushed off a furore about the growing number of 50- metre penalties paid against players who protest umpiring decisions, saying if anything there should be more, to reinforce a powerful message to the footy community about respect for officials.
On Wednesday, GWS coach Leon Cameron said that players would take time to adjust to the new regime, but they would.
“The consistency, like anything in life, is the hardest thing to get and players will adjust to that,” Cameron said.
“If they (the AFL) stick to the rules … and they continue to look at it every week, then we must play our part as players and coaches and understand that if there’s a free kick or something that goes against you, we need to move on as quick as we can.
“The quicker we do that and understand that, then the less will be paid.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury agreed. “As players, we are so clear that anything we do will be 50,” he said. “We had pre-season games where we were playing a practice match and we’d give six or seven away, and now I think we wouldn’t even average one a week.
“So, we’re getting a lot better at it, I think the message the AFL’s trying to send is the right one.”
But 20-year veteran Victorian Amateur Football Association umpire Brian Clarke says it will make life even worse for umpires at local level.
“What I’m dreading is that umpiring this weekend, or in a few weeks time, players and spectators are going to start demanding I pay a 50-metre penalty because somebody has their arms out,” Clarke told 3AW.