AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says sorry to footy fans uncomfortable with security presence

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Coach

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AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has apologised to fans who have felt intimidated by security guards at matches.

McLachlan met with Marvel Stadium chief Michael Green on Monday to discuss what measures would be adjusted to calm irate fans.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun, Mr McLachlan said: “It hurts me that our fans are feeling intimidated at our games.

“I’m sorry they are feeling intimidated. If people are feeling threatened we obviously will listen ... I’m appalled.

“It hurts me to hear our administration is not looking after the fans.’’

Mr McLachlan will hold a press conference on the issue, which has provoked widespread uproar.

It comes as Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett said club bosses had been kept in the dark on the deployment of Behavioural Awareness Officers, who he dubbed the “new thought police’’.

Mr Green conceded at the weekend that security measures, including the number of times security staff patrol aisles, would be reassessed.

Footy fans were cleared to cheer loudly and support their team at the Docklands stadium this weekend.

Mr Kennett said that club powerbrokers had been blindsided by the appearance of the AFL- endorsed officers in the stands.

“I had no idea nor had I been told of this new thought police or vocal police that they’ve put into place,’’ he said.

“We had a meeting with presidents of the AFL only a couple of weeks ago — no mention of it.

“For god’s sake — it’s either a game of football or everybody is going to have to sit there like a bloody turnip and say nothing, in which case people won’t go to the football.’’

Mr Green told the Herald Sun the officers had not been told to look out for umpire abuse or fans cheering too loudly.

“There is no specific direction to these guys except do what they are trained to do and that is identify suspicious behaviour,’’ he said.

Mr Kennett said fans should be “able to go and yell, shout, scream, boo’’ when the officers patrol St Kilda’s clash with Brisbane on Saturday and Sunday’s Western Bulldogs-Collingwood showdown.

“Don’t tell me the AFL is going to tell me how I’m going to behave,’’ he said.

“I know it’s wrong to hit someone, I know it’s wrong to racially abuse but for goodness sake, am I not going to be able to boo?”

The company responsible for the Behavioural Awareness Officers concept, AIG Security, did not return calls.

Collingwood cheer squad identity Jeff “Joffa” Corfe said the AFL should “just let us be who we are — the football supporter”.

“Let us for God’s sake own the terraces with hearts on sleeves along with euphoric passion,” he said.

Mr Green said most Marvel Stadium ejections were for foul language, vilification threats or violence.

“Nobody has been kicked out because they have been supporting their team too greatly,’’ he said.

 

amigo

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Actions speak louder than words, and the proof will be in the eating at the game for fans, but I suspect Gil is just following directions from his hired spin doctors and entering damage control. They'll pull back for a while at best.

I think all this spying and surveillance of footy fans is symbolic of a wider societal issue which is only going to get worse. Have a look at how China spies on their citizens using CCTV, it's coming here too. And it's done with one goal in mind, to control the masses. Soon they'll know everything every fan has said and done at every game. I doubt fans will ever enjoy the game live as much as we used to knowing the PC police are watching our every move.
 

Vines

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@amigo I reckon that's rubbish.
Visible security at games threatens no one. Visible security is a good thing at nearly every other event! The only people that should be worried are the wankers that behave like imbeciles, ruining the experience for others around them.
Given the number of punch ons there have been at games this year...I see it as a good move.
 
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amigo

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@Vines if you want to believe big brother is a good guy, good luck to you. I prefer to believe the wisdom of folk such as Orwell, or people who have lived through such regimes.

What we recently saw was a sneak peak of AFL big brother. It will be back as the masses are slowly acclimatised. Booing opposition players, or criticising them, or calling umpires names, may ruin the experience for others, so that should be banned by your assertions.

Nobody would be complaining if they were just clamping down on punch ons.
 

Vines

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Regimes.
Yeah. Not sure the AFL or Australia counts as regime-ish.
 

Vines

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And I've also got more important/realistic things to worry about than security guards listening for foul mouthed wankers with no filter.
Dogs Prez got it spot on for mine; why apologise for wanting to ensure the footy experience is enjoyable for all. My guess is, the same people that are getting shitty about the current issue are the same people that booed Goodes out of the game and still don't see what was wrong with that.
And, let's not confuse Goodes with the booing of lil Gary, who was/is booed because he 'liked' a post that said humans should go to hell, just coz they're gay! That is the football community's way of siding with a minority group which is in direct contrast to the treatment of Goodes.

@amigo - feel free to wander about looking over your shoulder.
 

amigo

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I don't know what the Dogs prez was referring to, but if having Behavioural Awareness Officers monitoring everyone's verbal behaviour is his idea of making the footy experience enjoyable for all, then he's as out of touch as Gil.

As far as I'm concerned, at a footy match fans should be able to cheer and boo who they like. Let's not forget, the ultimate reason for booing players is to put them off their game. No Swan's fans booed Goodes, no Geelong fans booed Ablett.
With Goode's, the desired result was achieved. Most of them are not snowflakes and it inspires them to play better.

If you're looking for reasons besides putting them off their game that fans boo certain players, I say forget it, keep the thought police out of our great game.
 

Vines

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I haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I heard Joffa say "leave us alone" on the front bar last night. (I hope) He's talking about the vast majority of supporters who cheers, yell, clap, laugh and cry the right way at the footy.

But for the vocal and violent minority the AFL has an obligation to 'police'. And if they decide that's with an increased presence then so be it.

Has anyone that's jumped up and down about this stopped for one second to think that all this publicity may actually result in behavioural change of 99% of fans that need behavioural change? Perhaps...just perhaps, instead of jumping up and down about it, you could applaud the proactive approach.

This isn't the PC police...
 

amigo

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I did listen to the podcast, and I think the vast majority of passionate supporters who regularly attend games would agree with Joffa.

Thanks for sharing @Praise_Dusty_Martin

The AFL have finally admitted they got it wrong, hopefully it's not just damage control. It's alarming how out of touch they are with their fan base to allow this antagonism to happen in the first place.
 

Vines

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They got what wrong? Wanting to keep the experience of going to the footy a family friendly affair.
Ok.
Pandering again to the moron side of society.