by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
St Kilda's Brendon Goddard came close to being made an example by the Match Review Panel after a Round 7 incident in which he attempted to milk a free kick against Carlton. The AFL, in an effort to stamp out blatant staging or diving for free kicks, amended the Tribunal guidelines. The ruling, which was introduced at the start of the 2010 season, allows the MRP and umpires to report a player for unsportsmanlike conduct if they feel a player demonstrates "... excessive exaggeration of contact in an unsportsmanlike manner ...". Such conduct could be reportable if an umpire's decision-making was affected, started a brawl or if they felt such behavior was not in the spirit of the game.
The MRP scrutinized video of an incident between Goddard and Carlton's Mitch Robinson. After a goal by the Saints, Goddard ran to Robinson who was jostling with opponent David Armitage. The video showed Robinson making slight contact with his open hand to Goddard's face, then pulling on Goddard's jumper. Goddard went to ground in an exaggerated manner in an attempt to earn a free kick. The MRP determined that Goddard's attempt did not exceed what they referred to as the "... threshold of unsportsmanlike conduct ...". However, it has sent a clear warning to players that such conduct will not be tolerated. Had Goddard been reported, he would have been the first player to be penalized under the newest Tribunal amendment.
The dubious distinction of being the first player cited goes to Essendon's Leroy Jetta. Jetta was charged by the Match Review Panel after the Round 8 match against Richmond. The MRP reviewed video footage of the incident in which Jetta runs towards Steven Morris after kicking a goal. According to the MRP, Jetta appears to be goading Morris. After Morris makes slight chest to chest contact with Jetta, Jetta dramatically falls to the ground with his hands over his face. MRP chairman and former umpire Mark Fraser later said that Jetta's behavior could have sparked a brawl, thus the charge. Jetta, who was handed a one-match suspension for striking in a separate incident, has been given a reprimand for a first offense under the staging rule. A second offense will incur a fine.
Fraser is also a fomer player. He played 110 games for Essendon and Collingwood 1992-2000. He traded in his playing boots for a whistle to become an umpire at the end of 2000. He retired from umpiring at the end of 2007.
Source: herald.sun.com.au, afl.com.au, theage.com.au, Encyclopeidia of League Footballers, AFL Record Season Guides
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2012 - 10:24 PM EDT