The AFL claims it has given no directive for police and security to come down harder on crowd behaviour at matches despite a spectator being ejected from a venue for allegedly calling an umpire a “bald-headed flog”.
- The AFL says there has been “no change to the expectations” on how supporters should behave at matches
- The league chose not to take action against a spectator who was removed from Docklands for abusing an umpire last weekend
- There has been considerable criticism of the AFL about the treatment of spectators at its venues this season
The league released a statement this afternoon outlining that it had issued a warning to the spectator who was removed from Docklands last Saturday for abusing umpire Mathew Nichols during the Carlton versus Brisbane match.
The incident follows a three-match ban given to a Richmond supporter for calling an umpire a “green maggot”, while a Collingwood supporter has claimed he was threatened with eviction from the MCG for “barracking too loud”.
The AFL said it had not changed its approach to crowd behaviour this season, as it was simply ensuring spectators could enjoy a “safe and fun environment for all fans to come to and enjoy the football”.
“For over 100 years, the footy has been a place to come together, barrack, cheer and share in the experience in whichever way you choose,” the statement read.
“There has been no directive from the AFL to change this.
“The theatre of match day is one of the great sporting experiences, a place to be expressive and passionate about your team and the game. It always has been, it always will be.
“In season 2019 there has been no change to the expectations of the behaviour of everyone at games. We want fans to enjoy attending matches and allow other fans around them to do the same.”
Umpire Mathew Nicholls was abused by a spectator at Docklands last weekend. (AAP: Julian Smith)
The AFL maintained its “message” to fans was as clear as it had previously been.
“Come to the footy, barrack as loud as you can, enjoy the game and do so in a responsible manner,” it said.
The AFL had hoped the statement would clarify its stance on crowd behaviour but instead it has been met by criticism and confusion from fans.
The AFL Fans Association had written to the league earlier this week seeking clarification on what it felt was acceptable behaviour from supporters.