AFL CHIEF executive Gillon McLachlan has expressed his personal opposition to the behavioural awareness officers spotted at Marvel Stadium during games.
In a tense press conference on Tuesday, McLachlan expressed his devastation at footy fans feeling restricted in their enjoyment while watching matches.
However, he denied there had been any change to AFL policy regarding spectator behaviour.
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The behavioural awareness officers will not be part of the security presence any longer, if McLachlan has his way.
"My personal view is … they should go," McLachlan said.
"That's part of the discussions we can have with our venues. That is a look that actually has a challenge for supporters."
McLachlan met with Victoria Police Commander Tim Hansen on Tuesday as he works through the issues that fans are experiencing.
"No one at the AFL is trying to stop our crowds being passionate or our fans barracking. No one," McLachlan said.
"It is devastating to think that our fans think something has changed that is trying to limit their enjoyment at the footy.
"However, the AFL has a dual responsibility. We must also keep our game safe and family-friendly."
He was adamant the AFL wasn't trying to be overbearing, in the face of overwhelming feedback from the community.
"I'm apologising for people who are going along to the football to have a day out who feel that they haven't been able to do that," McLachlan said.
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"They feel that, the security in some way, is impinging on them. They feel they're actually not able to be themselves when they're actually enjoying a game of football, and that's the feedback we've had in the last few days."
McLachlan remained firm there has been no move to curb spectator behaviour.
"There has been no edict, no discussions, I have not had one discussion about cracking down on fan behaviour with venues," McLachlan said.
"The venues make their own decisions about policing … about how they're patrolling, what they're doing and how they're going up and down the aisles."
Despite the recent furore, McLachlan is optimistic about how the game sits.
"We're at round 13, the highest ever number of attendees to this point. Our ratings are up double digits," McLachlan said.
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"We'll make mistakes. The scrutiny is greater than ever, and you can have periods where a lot of things go wrong, but broadly the game's in great shape, the football's good, it's closer than ever, people are coming and people are watching."
McLachlan had "a number of conversations" with Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, who said venue security appeared to be "new arrivals" to Australia and are ill-suited to the role.
"If you call out someone based on their appearance and not on their ability, you're racially stereotyping. I've told Jeff that," McLachlan said.
This morning I spoke to Gill McLachlan about my comments yesterday 're a Behavioural Awareness Officer at Marvel Stadium at Friday night's game. I expressed my regret at using some of the words I did and apologise for doing so.— Jeff Kennett (@jeff_kennett) June 18, 2019
McLachlan said he was unequivocal with Kennett.
"I've told him that I completely believe that he's wrong and I know Jeff regrets his comments," McLachlan said.
As to how fans are allowed to act, McLachlan pointed to what the police use as a guide.
"Police use a reasonable person as a test," McLachlan said.
"What does a reasonable person think? What's their response? In the end, that's hopefully what we are. Reasonable people making decisions at all times with context in different situations about what's right and wrong."