Hocking responded to recent criticism of umpiring by reminding clubs and officials that such public comments are “against the spirit of the game”.
Without naming specific individuals, an AFL statement reiterated that all those involved in Australian football – involving players, coaches and officials – have “to demonstrate respect and sportsmanship towards each other”.
“We recognise that this year has been challenging for so many in the community and those within the football industry are not immune to those challenges,” Hocking said.
“The willingness of everyone in football to play their part is to be commended – at every turn throughout the last four months everyone in football continues to make significant sacrifices to ensure we not only protect the AFL competition but also the wider community.
AFLPA president and Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield was also vocal in his critique of umpiring on Channel Nine last week when asked by Footy Classified panelist Matthew Lloyd about the interpretation of holding the ball.
“It’s incredibly difficult to get a grasp on and I get the game is the hardest game in the world to umpire. It’s 360, the length of it, the ground that the umpires have to cover, but certainly this interpretation at the moment has players confused and the last thing we want is players second guessing themselves trying to get the ball,” Dangerfield said.
Dangerfield was asked about that week’s game against Collingwood, where Collingwood were given 22 free kicks to Geelong’s 10.
Officiating umpire Ray Chamberlain later told SEN radio that upon review, the free kick count should’ve actually been 25-8.
“Of those eight free kicks, four were out on the full,” Dangerfield chuckled.
“I do look at that and think – in 110 minutes of footy, there’s four free kicks in field play, that’s quite astonishing to me, but they reviewed it thoroughly.”
Dangerfield’s teammate Josh Jenkins, who was watching on the sidelines due to injury, was criticised by his coach Chris Scott for tweeting: “Do we allow these umpires back into our hotel after the game !?!”
In his statement, Hocking continued: “We must maintain a collaborative approach within the industry, the same approach that ensured we were able to return to play despite the numerous hurdles we have faced so far.
“The comments made in recent weeks are against the spirit of the game and are not examples of the conduct required by leaders within the AFL.”
On Monday the AFL Umpires’ Association all but called on the league to take action against Clarkson, who also upset Sydney on Saturday when he claimed the Swans’ star small forward Tom Papley was “as good as anyone in the competition” at milking free kicks.
With Scott Spits
Sam McClure is a sport reporter for The Age and winner of ‘best news reporter’ at the AFL Media Association awards.