League claims dissent crack down improving grassroots treatment of umpires

The AFL believes that the contentious crackdown on dissent towards umpires has already seen improved respect for umpires at grassroots level by fans and players.

AFL’s general manager of game development Rob Auld said the AFL’s tougher stance on dissent – which has seen many 50m penalties awarded against even mildly demonstrative players – had improved the way umpires had been treated at both junior and senior levels in local football.

“It absolutely has (improved behaviours),” Auld said of the “trickle down effect” for umpiring at a local community football level. “And a significant part of that is improving the behaviour towards umpires.

“And I’ve seen that at both junior and senior level … is a noticeable and intentional effort by all involved to show greater respect to our umpires, both association and club-appointed umpires.

“And as a result of that … the match day environment in community footy is the beneficiary of that.”

The crackdown on dissent by players has been viewed in some quarters as excessive, sparking debate about what players should be permitted to say or demonstrate physically when a decision goes against them.

Dissent over decisions: Gold Coast players put their arms out over a call.

Auld said the impact of the tougher stance on dissent towards umpires had happened “only in the last two to four weeks” – the period in which community and junior football has resumed.

“So it’s actually been incredibly quick and I’ve been pleasantly surprised as to how much difference it’s made.

“As soon as it was in place at the elite level, it immediately trickled through.”

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