Collingwood's No. 1 fan launches boycott
The AFL has been left a laughing stock over mixed messages surrounding an apparent overzealous crackdown on fan behaviour.
The game is now facing a boycott from the self-proclaimed leader of the Collingwood cheer squad Joffa Corfe, who says he will organise to keep fans away from coming to the football until the league issues an apology to supporters.
It comes after the AFL issued a warning to the Carlton supporter ejected over the use of the term "bald-headed flog" during Carlton's win over Brisbane this weekend.
The Blues fan was removed from Marvel Stadium after allegedly levelling the sledge at umpire Mathew Nicholls during the round 12 clash.
The league has not issued the fan, who has made several appearances on Melbourne radio this week, an apology.
Despite the AFL taking action against footy fans in several incidents this season, league officials insist there is no crackdown coming from head office.
In a Facebook post, Joffa said the AFL is going to have to find cardboard cut-outs to replace his cheer squad - unless under fire chief executive Gillon McLachlan apologises to fans and begins to treat them with "respect".
"I won't attend another AFL game until Gill comes out and apologises to all supporters at the way we are being treated," Joffa wrote.
"Some one has to make a stand on behalf of all other decent like minded supporters at the way we have been portrayed.
"Football is all about banter and fun booing and having a go at the umpiring. It's about us you and me. I have never sensed outrage in the Terraces as what we are seeing now.
"So AFL get your supporter cardboard cut outs to replace us, get your fake crowd noise over the loud speaker systems at all grounds to replace us. We are the game or at least we thought we were."
The AFL's mishandling of fan behaviour was also poked fun of on Wednesday night by Channel 7's Front Bar.
AFL House's statement responding to the issue appeared to clear up nothing.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the league said the ejected supporter had received a warning over the incident but no further action would be taken.
Fan behaviour at games has been in the spotlight recently after what appears to have been heavy-handed responses to incidents that barely would have rated a mention in the past.
A Richmond supporter was slapped with a three-game ban by the club after he allegedly called an umpire a 'green maggot'.
A Collingwood fan was spoken to by Victoria Police at the MCG on Monday for barracking too loudly, leading the AFL Fans Association to write to the league seeking clarification about what is and isn't acceptable behaviour by supporters.
AFLFA president Gerry Eeman said that the incidents showed that the goalposts appeared to have shifted when it comes to fan behaviour this season. Not so, according to the AFL.
"For over 100 years, the footy has been a place to come together, barrack, cheer and share in the experience in whichever way you choose," the statement read in part.
"There has been no directive from the AFL to change this.
"The theatre of match day is one of the great sporting experiences, a place to be expressive and passionate about your team and the game, it always has been, it always will be.
"In season 2019 there has been no change to the expectations of the behaviour of everyone at games.
"The AFL's message to everyone is clear - come to the footy, barrack as loud as you can, enjoy the game and do so in a responsible manner."
Eeman says there had been a growing sense of frustration amongst fans at what appeared to be a shift in AFL policy without notice.
"We're seeing several incidents where fans are being removed from stadiums for which they wouldn't have been removed last season or the 100 years before that," he said.
"We don't condone abusing umpires or players but we feel that there seems to have been an over-reaction to tackling that problem and it's leaving a lot of fans confused as to what is or isn't acceptable.
"There's also a creeping feeling of being watched by Big Brother at the football." Members of the Tigers cheer squad are reported to have complained about over- the-top scrutiny by stadium security and AFL observers this season.
- with AAP
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