Upset players may have the chance to rectify wrongs in the near future.
Upset players may have the chance to rectify wrongs in the near future.

‘Crazy’ AFL revamp will destroy the game

AFL legends Tim Watson and Garry Lyon have implored the AFL not to introduce a new initiative that would allow players to challenge the decisions of goal umpires.

Goal review howlers like the one that could have cost GWS a grand final berth could be a thing of the past if the league goes ahead with a proposed player challenge system.

The AFL could allow players to challenge decisions made by goal umpires as soon as next season, football chief Steve Hocking has revealed. The move, which would shift some of the onus to players when it comes to touched-off-the-boot calls only, was discussed at the AFL's competition committee meeting in Melbourne on Tuesday.

It comes after the league admitted a goal was incorrectly awarded to Collingwood's Josh Thomas in this year's preliminary final when GWS won by four points.

All goals are routinely scrutinised by the AFL Review Centre (ARC), but Hocking believes a player challenge system would allow officials to take more time to get decisions correct.

In the Thomas example, the Giants could have potentially been cost a grand final berth after the AFL was forced to admit the reviewer failed to see Lachie Keeffe's fingers brush the ball in the frantic final minutes at the MCG.

However, Essendon great Watson says any such change would destroy the fabric of the sport.

"Please don't do this, AFL," Watson said on SEN Breakfast. "Let's live with the 50 shades of grey in our game. Our game, if it wanted certainty and fairness, we would have played this with a circular ball, not an oval shaped ball.

"The introduction of a player review is another step towards a great, fast flowing game becoming a vehicle for advanced technology to show its latest trick.

"AFL, if you want to gaze into the future to see how reviewing takes over and ultimately destroys a game, watch the NFL.

"The NFL has become a video review game with a touch of live play attached to it."

 

Reviews have caused plenty of drama in the AFL.
Reviews have caused plenty of drama in the AFL.

The addition of technology to try and clarify whether Sherrins have either been touched or hit the post before going through for a goal has only added more controversy as pundits and coaches lament the large number of incorrect decisions they believe are still being made.

Watson said while he initially supported the ARC - a hub for all video decision-making much like The Bunker in the NRL - his view has since changed.

"Sometimes you've got to see what happens and which direction it flows in. I want it all gone," Watson said.

"Because, if we can improve that decision let's try and improve this decision and then this decision and this decision.

"Last year in the NFL play-offs, there was a really bad decision that coast the (New Orleans) Saints the game. Because of the outrage over that, they sat down in the off-season and said, 'OK, let's have the introduction for a review of that type of interference call'.

"This year it has become a farce."

Melbourne icon and Watson's radio co-host Lyon added: "Umpire's call. Just wear it. It's always been one of the anomalies of the game.

"We are not going to get to a point where we are completely and utterly satisfied whether a ball flicks the edge of somebody's finger or not.

"It is a crazy thing to try and introduce."

Players may have the option of taking matters into their own hands.
Players may have the option of taking matters into their own hands.

Geelong CEO Brian Cook also said the proposed change might be too much.

"I get a little bit dizzy with the changes," Cook said on SEN. "I know the changes they're making are working towards a better future and all those things but I don't know, I just don't think we have enough emphasis on human nature and humans making decisions albeit they might be wrong every now and again.

"I think technology and data analysis has taken over a fair bit, I get that and we live in a world where we rely on that data at times, but it (challenge system) is (a major change)."

Hocking said part of the reasoning for the proposal was to give players the power to challenge decisions they are unhappy with - giving them an avenue to do something about calls they believe are wrong.

"We want to provide the player and also the team with the ability to follow it through strongly and it also allows us greater time as well," Hocking told reporters.

"A lot of that happens back-of-house but in this sense if I'm at a game and (a player) makes that decision then the fans are going to respond to that in a different way.

"On top of that, it doesn't look like officialdom is intervening in the game.

"There's some work to be done on that but we're exploring it."

Teams could be allowed up to three challenges a match under the system that will be discussed at December's AFL Commission meeting.

Hocking said research showed rule changes like the new 6-6-6 set up after goals and the relaxed kick-in restrictions have been well-received by fans but ruled out further tinkering for next season.

News Corp Australia


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