The Western Bulldogs’ 48-point win over Collingwood on Friday night raised eyebrows in the AFL’s crackdown against dissent.
The two incidents, especially the big names in the game, have drawn strong criticism from the AFL.
Bulldogs young gun Buku Khamis was the first player to concede a 50-meter penalty when he dropped out of a marking contest and reached out to the umpire without getting a free kick.
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“Get out of it. It’s not 50 meters,” said Richmond legend Matthew Richardson, commenting on the Seven.
“Then you have to give them all. It’s ridiculous.
“I feel for them sometimes. It’s an emotional game. They’re not robots.”
But in the fourth quarter it was decided to ping Colingwood’s Jordan de Goyek for the same crime as Khamis in which many spectators and scholars took up arms.
In De Goa’s example, the Collingwood forward raised his arm for a short time before landing quickly.
St Kilder Great Le Montagna says De Goye has shown enough restraint to avoid a hefty punishment.
“This is what we want to see from the players – restraint – and he brought it back to himself, he did exactly what we wanted with this rule, and he’s still paid 50,” Montagna told Fox Footy.
“For five weeks we didn’t see them paying at all, so confused. Suddenly why? After three rounds there was a big focus, then it went away.”
Hawthorne Great Jason Dunstall, meanwhile, agrees that De Goa’s example was harsh, but says it’s hard to blame umpires based on a set of precedents.
“I thought De Goye in particular was a bit tough because he was going to leave and then literally put himself back to work and then really stopped but you can see initially that he was going to take up arms,” Dunstall said.
“If you’re going to try so hard to get yourself back, I think you deserve some latitude.
“Here it is really, really difficult.
“They’re instructing the umpires so let’s not be harsh on them. If you see the arm going up, it’s kind of a contradiction but it’s hard to expect the players to stop blowing the whistle.”
The AFL’s crackdown was brought against umpires at the start of the season.
Football’s AFL general manager Brad Scott has backed the position on several occasions throughout the season, as well as encouraging umpires to continue to push players for behavior that falls below the standard set.
Scott said in April, “It is our responsibility at the elite level to set the standard of conduct for all levels of the game.
“As a football community we have become smaller and disagreements with umpires during matches have become a problem at all levels of the game, especially at the community level where we have less than 6000 umpires.
“Punishing players for showing respect and dissent to umpires has strong support from everyone in football – including the president, CEO, coach and football manager.
“Our message to the players is that when an umpire gives a free kick, accept it and move on, and our message to the umpires is that we encourage you to continue giving free kicks or 50m penalties where players disagree.”
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