The AFL match review panel is a joke! Only two rounds in and already the AFL has handed out a couple baffling suspensions as well as letting a few incidents go unpunished. Long has been the cry for consistency from the tribunal and match review panel yet once again it looks like they are going to be as inconsistent as Cameron Bruce’s hairline. Hawthorn’s Cyril Rioli has been charged with a level two striking offence for a slight bump on Melbourne’s Nathan Jones and because of a ‘bad record’ he will be suspended for one week even if he successfully appeals the charge. How can this been in any way justified?
The night before we saw Geelong’s Cameron Ling stop and punch Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne in the chest. Most people would argue that Ling’s punch was of significantly greater force than Rioli’s bump on Jones yet Ling did not receive a sanction from the match review panel. The same goes for Carlton’s Jarrad Waite who swung his leg back which appeared to hit Richmond’s Luke McGuane in the testicles, McGuane retaliated with a forceful punch into the ribs of Waite and neither incident was punished. Each of Ling, Waite and McGuane’s strikes were arguably of more force to their victim than Rioli’s bump but because precedent is mystifyingly not used by the AFL tribunal he has very little recourse.
The other point is that obviously the field umpires did not think the bump was of sufficient force to warrant a report even with Jones falling to the ground as if he had been shot. Rioli was the focus of the umpires as he had just received the free kick and therefore they would have seen the incident and reported him if necessary. The decision would not have been as bad if all those other incidents received similar punishments but the consistency is not there and this is when precedent needs to be introduced into the tribunal system. Players need to be able to use recent past examples of incidents to their defence when given a questionable punishment so that the system is fair. Right now the inconsistency of the tribunal is bringing the AFL into disrepute and fans are becoming disillusioned with the decisions made by the AFL.