AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says he is “unapologetic” for the crackdown on umpire treatment in 2022, which has proved a key talking point in the pre-season so far.
Opening the AAMI Community Series on Thursday night, Carlton’s win over Melbourne was noteworthy for the number of 50 metre penalties the Dees conceded, with some a result of umpire treatment that the league had promised to crack down on ahead of the season.
Asked on Saturday whether players would effectively not be able to converse with the umpires at all this season, McLachlan stood firm on the league’s stance.
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“Honestly, anyone who is going to go on with that nonsense (that players can’t say anything to the umpires), don‘t fall in for it,” he said on Fox Footy.
“People can have conversations. I had breakfast with the umpires this morning, I’ve spoken to players … you need to have relationship with the umpires.
“I want to get the umpires get back to training, to go into the rooms before the games, they need to be able to talk to the players, that’s how it works, but there’s got to be level of respect. They will work that out.
“What we are outlawing and it’s unacceptable is gesticulating from 40 metres away and abuse. Abuse is out, relationships, talking, feedback and interaction is still there.”
Asked whether there was a clear line between discussion and ‘abuse’, McLachlan said the players would work it out in due course.
“People want to know what‘s that line – people understand what’s respectful and what’s not. The umpires want to have conversations with players like they’ve always had,” he said.
“I think though it’s morphed to a point where there’s been too much disrespect and we’re calling it out.
“We are 6000 umpires short nationally and umpire abuse and disrespect is a problem and we’re calling it out and we’re unapologetic.”