AFLNT to consider bans for spectators and players who abuse umpires
Northern Territory AFL umpires have banded together to take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to umpire abuse, calling on AFLNT to ensure match managers, who have the power to eject spectators from games, take better responsibility for policing spectator behaviour.
After a meeting on Monday night, members of the NT Football League's Umpires Association discussed reports of increasing incidents of abuse from players, spectators and even high-level coaches, and called for an automatic two-week ban for umpire abuse to be re-introduced as a deterrent for bad behaviour.
Association President Ashley Manicaros claimed there were multiple occasions where individual umpires were becoming targets.
Manicaros told ABC Local Radio “over the weekend in a division one game, a club and a group of spectators near the coaching box were actually chanting an umpire's name, followed by a derogatory sentiment, and this went on for some time.
"It was heard by a senior official, no match managers intervened, no-one said anything, it was noted down ... and as far as I know nothing's been done. That's unacceptable."
Advising that reports of abuse had halved since this time last season, from 16 to eight, AFLNT said they would consider the two-week ban but not until the post-season review.
AFLNT Chief Executive Stuart Totham said there was already an established complaints process available.
Totham advised in a statement "AFLNT and our clubs do not condone umpire abuse - we want our competitions to be a zero-tolerance zone.
"This is not a quick fix though, and it requires work with all parties to engage in a collaborative manner."
Before Monday night's meeting, Manicaros said the umpire fraternity had "zero confidence the league or the board has their back on this issue", adding “there's been a couple of incidents this season that have been terrible.
"We've had an umpire spat on this year.
"We've had several incidents of umpire abuse where they haven't followed through properly far as we're concerned with proper suspensions."
He also said umpires had been sworn at during the season.
Manicaros ruled out a boycott of games with repeat offender teams, which he had previously hinted at, and said instead the association would continue to pressure AFLNT to ensure standards were maintained.
He concluded that the umpires will be asking the AFLNT to force match managers prevent abusive spectator behaviour for the remainder of the season.
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