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AFL backlash over arms out, umpire abuse rule after Harris Andrews incident | Collingwood vs Lions

Footy pundits are calling for change after the weekend’s action highlighted a glaring discrepancy the AFL needs to address right away.

The AFL has been accused of double standards in policing player behaviour towards umpires after different interpretations of what constitutes abuse were exposed.

On Thursday night Brisbane defender Harris Andrews gave away a 50m penalty for holding his arms out in disbelief after being called for holding Darcy Moore during the Lions’ tense seven-point win over Collingwood.

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AFL bosses announced in the pre-season they would crack down on umpire abuse to stamp out “disrespect” towards officials and while Andrews didn’t appear to say anything, his gesture was deemed enough to give away a 50m free kick.

“Arms out is 50, mate,” umpire Andrew Stephens told Andrews.

Other examples from the weekend of players gesturing with their arms have since been pointed out, but none of them were pinged for free kicks or 50m penalties.

“This is the confusion because the same round, how many examples of arms out I could have found that weren’t a free kick against and certainly weren’t 50m,” Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes said on the Sunday Footy Show.

“The umpires’ boss has to come out this week and say, is that just one umpire who’s made an error (with Andrews)? Or is the rule if you put your arms out like that, it’s paid 50?

“It’s one of those grey areas in the game that we have to get out.”

Melbourne legend Garry Lyon also hit out at the lack of consistency around the rule.

“The zero tolerance I‘m absolutely supportive of in round one on this dissension. It went from zero tolerance to five per cent then to about 15 per cent and now they go back to zero tolerance,” Lyon told Fox Footy on Good Friday.

“That‘s why players and fans get annoyed. If you keep it at zero tolerance, Harris Andrews doesn’t go there.

“But he says, ‘Hang on, the last three weeks I’ve been watching it slowly, slowly, slowly coming back’.

“That’s why they get frustrated.”

Brisbane great Jonathan Brown said there can’t be “any room for interpretation” while Hawthorn icon Luke Hodge said during Channel 7’s commentary for the Collingwood-Brisbane game: “They brought it in for the first weekend of the pre-season games and the umpires were so hard on it, but then players have been able to get away week-in week-out.

“That looks like he just turned around to talk to the umpire, so if they’re gonna do it, they need to be firm on everyone.”

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