The AFL has dropped the ball

Date: June 24, 2016 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

EddieIt has been an interesting week for North Melbourne – the coach fined, the club fined and the president hit with a wet lettuce.

Brad Scott’s ill-conceived attack on the umpires last Friday resulted in the coach being fined $30,000.

The club was hit with an additional $50,000 penalty as a result of his indiscretion.

While, for his part in the verbal attack on Triple M of The Age’s football journalist, Caroline Wilson, Kangaroos president James Brayshaw received nothing more than being admonished in a media conference held by AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan.

The chief provocateur in the Wilson affair, Collingwood president, Eddie McGuire and former St Kilda captain and current All-Australian selector, Danny Frawley, also felt the ‘wrath’ of the AFL in the same media conference.

The contrasting responses by the AFL to both incidents is incongruous especially given the timing of other events.

The AFL, along with several other peak sporting bodies around the country, have all sung from the same hymn book in recent years by unifying behind the fight to reduce domestic violence, and in particular, bullying and violence that is directed towards women.

Just days before the comments directed at Wilson were aired McLachlan stood beside his counterparts from the NRL, Netball Australia and the ARU to publicly acknowledge their collective support of ‘Our Watch’.

One of the underpinning aims of the program is ‘respect on and off the field’. There was no respect shown to Wilson by Messrs McGuire, Brayshaw and Frawley.

The AFL landscape is changing.

In recent years the faces on both the Commission and club boards has changed with an increasing number of females being represented. Sam Mostyn and Major-General Simone Wilkie are two of the nine AFL Commissioners. The Richmond Football Club has a female president in Peggy O’Neal.

Interestingly, the Tigers players have taken a stance by refusing to make themselves available for interview during Triple M’s broadcast of their game at the MCG against Brisbane this Saturday.

The club is yet to confirm whether the ban will be extended beyond this weekend.

Hats off to the Richmond players for taking the stance they have. Sadly, the AFL has not deemed it necessary to take such meaningful action itself.

Yes, match day officials no matter the sporting code, must be respected.

Just last weekend we saw the disgusting occurrence of a parent, who was doubling up as a trainer at a junior rugby league match in Sydney, knocking out a 16-year-old referee after his son had been sin-binned.

Protecting umpires and referees from verbal and physical abuse is paramount if we wish to have sport continue as it simply cannot if people fail to take up those roles.

Scott deserved his whack from the AFL, as evidenced by his club’s rapid public back pedal when it realised his comments were lacking in substance.

Likewise, the AFL should have taken against the Triple M trio.

At the very least the AFL should have revoked the trio’s media accreditations for a period, thus preventing them from being public voices of the game.

On top of the AFL’s inaction, Triple M has done nothing either except to say that the trio has been spoken to with respect to their on-air comments.

So, in the end, the three amigos have received no penalty whatsoever.

The AFL had an opportunity to put its actions where its mouth is with respect to the issue of respect to women and it has chosen to do nothing.

In essence, they dropped the ball … big time.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 23 June 2016, soliciting 145 comments