K rock Football

More needed to end umpire abuse

Local umpires deserve respect, no matter how your team is doing. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

AFL Barwon has called for more to be done to eliminate umpire abuse, following an incident during a GDFNL match at Winter Reserve on Saturday.

An umpire was reportedly physically threatened by two spectators during three-quarter-time in the match between Belmont and Bannockburn, where the Lions went down by 61-points.

According to a statement on the Belmont Football Netball Club’s social media page, two members have been sanctioned for their actions which the club said “were not aligned to the Code of Conduct upheld by the club.”

However, AFL Barwon Regional Manager Edward Wilson said the initial round of sanctions were not in line with what was expected for the nature of the incident.

“Last night Neville Whitley, the president of the GDFNL, attended a meeting directly with the committee at Belmont Lions to discuss the matter further,” Wilson said.

“We share a joint view, that is the GDFNL and AFL Barwon, that more needs to be done to hold those to account, for those who behaved in a manner that they did on Saturday,” he said.

“We’re confident that where more information has come to light since the first round of sanctions were handed down, that the club will certainly do their due diligence that the appropriate justice is brought to the situation.”

Belmont declined to comment further on the incident.

The incident comes amid recent increases in umpire abuse across the sport in general and the Geelong region, and only a month after the AFL launched its national Umpire Respect campaign.

READ: AFL campaign to end umpire abuse.

“We believe the campaign for the AFL is a really good move, but we do acknowledge there is a lot more to do in the first place, and it requires everyone in the community to play their part,” Wilson said.

“Without umpires we don’t have games, and I know that is a cliché but our umpires are our most valuable members of our community, and like any workplace, they deserve to come to work, exercise their duties, and do so in a manner that is safe and welcoming to them,” he said.