GWS star Toby Greene will miss the first five rounds of the 2022 AFL season after his penalty for making intentional contact with an umpire was increased to a six-game suspension at the AFL Appeals Board.
- AFL Counsel Jeff Gleeson said Toby Greene’s bump was a “brazen act of contempt” for the umpire
- Greene’s lawyer argued the existing three-game ban was “very, very significant”
- The Giants have accepted the appeals board’s decision and will not be making any further appeals
The appeals board chair, Murray Kellam QC, said that, in making the decision, the board had considered the need to deter players from all levels against similar behaviour.
“There is a need for the penalty to adequately denounce the behaviour. Respect for umpires is at the heart of the integrity of the game,” Kellam said.
“This is a message that goes further than just AFL players, it is a message to the whole Australian football community.”
Greene bumped into umpire Matt Stevic as he disputed a decision at quarter-time during the Giants elimination final against Sydney.
He was originally given a three-game suspension at the AFL Tribunal but the AFL described the penalty as “manifestly inadequate” and appealed.
AFL Counsel, Jeff Gleeson QC, told the appeals board today the penalty should be at least a six-game ban.
“This was a brazen act by Mr Greene. It was an act of contempt for the decision, and it was an act of contempt for an umpire,” Gleeson said.
“We shouldn’t be distracted by the reference to the contact or level of contact being relatively minor.
“The message that needs to be communicated to Mr Greene and to all players, participants, viewers, umpires and prospective umpires is you simply do not aggressively touch an umpire.”
Greene’s lawyer, Ben Ihle QC, said the initial three-game ban was “very, very significant” and the AFL did not prove otherwise.
“The AFL has not discharged its burden of demonstrating to this appeal board that three weeks was so far out of the range as to be evidently, obviously, apparently or plainly wrong,” Ihle said.
He also said the penalty should take into account the stress Greene endured while waiting to discover his fate.
“Greene has had to live with uncertainty of his playing state, endure ongoing commentary not only of his actions but comments on his personality, has had to face his teammates and his inability to play in one of the finals games,” Ihle said.
Greene served the first game of his suspension in 2021 when he sat out the Giants loss to Geelong in the second week of the finals, he will not return now until round six, 2022.
GWS general manager of football Jason McCartney said the club accepted the increased penalty.
“As we said at the time, as a club, we maintain that umpires are sacrosanct. We understand the important role they play in our game and they are to be respected at all times,” McCartney said.
“Toby apologised for his actions. He is remorseful for the incident that occurred and understands the responsibility he has to umpires specifically, and [to] the game more broadly.”
“We accept the suspension and consider the matter finalised.”