THE AFL has urged players against speaking to umpires on the field, labelling the approach as the best possible way to avoid 50m penalties being conceded for disrespecting the officiators.
Umpires were red-hot on paying 50m penalties against players who argued disrespectfully against decisions during AAMI Community Series games over the weekend, following a League-wide crackdown on dissent towards officiators this season.
Melbourne gave away a record eight 50m penalties in its pre-season fixture against Carlton on Thursday night, with multiple conceded after players complained against free-kick decisions during the game.
Speaking about the new policy this week, AFL football boss Brad Scott said coaches are – and should continue to – instruct players against talking to umpires on the field throughout the year.
"I think the best policy – and from my understanding, the coaches are coaching this – is to tell the players to not talk to the umpire at all," Scott told AFL.com.au on Tuesday.
"Our game moves so quickly and if your mind is still on a decision that is already in the past, then your mind is not where it should be. So, I think the best policy is just to get on with the game.
"But, that being said, it's an emotional game. We know the players will be disappointed at times, but they can't be disrespectful towards umpires in any way."
Scott said that players can still talk to umpires respectfully during games, but encouraged them to do it away from the field at club visits that have occurred both across the summer and throughout the year.
"We still encourage dialogue. I think the best place for dialogue with umpires is … our umpires have had over 600 club visits so far this pre-season and they talk to the players all the time," Scott said.
"They talk to them about how they interpret decisions, which is fantastic for our umpires to actually ply their craft and train. But it's great for our players too, to understand what the umpires are looking for."
Scott clarified that a controversial 50m penalty paid after Christian Petracca showed visible frustration towards himself for conceding a free-kick was actually against his teammate Tom McDonald.
He said the League was fine with actions like Petracca's – but not McDonald's – saying players are allowed to be frustrated at both themselves and their teammates, but not at umpires.
"The important thing is, we really want players to understand that umpires will get most decisions right but they will get some wrong," Scott said.
"We want players just to get on with the game. They've got a responsibility to all levels of football to do that. Players are allowed to be disappointed in a decision and disappointed in themselves, but they can't be disrespectful towards the umpire."