AFL: North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has apologized for his critical comments of umpires following the Kangaroos clash with Hawthorn
NORTH Melbourne issued another “strong apology” to the AFL before the club and coach Brad Scott was hit with $80,000 in fines for Scott’s unsubstantiated accusations of umpire bias.
The club was slapped with a $50,000 fine and Scott a $30,000 penalty for the spray in which the Roos coach claimed the umpires told his players that Thomas would not be awarded free kicks for high contact because “he’s a ducker” after last Friday night’s loss to Hawthorn.
League football operations boss Mark Evans and AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon met with Scott and Kangaroos head of football Geoff Walsh on Tuesday, with Evans saying the club remained steadfast in its apology, before the recommendation for the sanctions was put to league chief executive Gillon McLachlan.
A suspension for Scott was considered, league football operations boss Mark Evans said, but the fact both the coach and the club had admitted their error so swiftly – within some 12 hours of dropping the bombshell – worked to their favour.
“North Melbourne were very strong in their apology today to reaffirm that they made the wrong call and they were very sorry for that,” Evans said.
“It was a very strong apology and they moved very quickly on Saturday morning and I think the alternative to that would have been a very protracted investigation.”
The club was penalised for its failure to adequately avert the situation.
“We felt that Brad’s comments had gone past just criticism of umpires and we felt they actually went to the integrity of our umpiring staff and our umpires and the AFL itself,” Evans said of how the sanctions were reached.
“We felt there were not just the comments, but actions that maybe the club could have averted this (with).”
North Melbourne immediately accepted the penalties.
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Evans said the comments went to the heart of umpires’ integrity and were “extremely serious in regard to the conduct and professionalism of umpires”.
“It was totally inappropriate for any doubt to be cast over their professionalism in a public environment without having detailed the facts of what had occurred in any player-umpire conversations through the course of the match,” he said.
“The umpiring department and the AFL were appreciative that the club moved quickly to retract and apologise for the statements made, but this was a very significant breach of the AFL player rules.”
An embarrassed Scott offered his “unreserved apology” on Monday.
Evans also said discussions around Scott potentially attending an AFL umpires training session could continue.
Evans said he does not know how long Scott and the club have to pay the fine.
Proceeds of such fines are generally divided between AFL community programs and injury research projects.