Papers please, players!

November 22
19:51 2012

I have this vision of Andrew Demetriou watching the coverage of the fighting in Gaza and thinking: “I wonder how you get hold of one of those drones …”

While I doubt the AFL will ever be permitted to obtain a UAV capacity, I wouldn’t put it beyond their ambitions and the evidence supports this view.

The AFL appears to, in its own view, be approaching the status of a state within a state, sort of like how Hezbollah operates in Lebanon, or perhaps the old Tamil Tiger statelet in Sri Lanka.

The AFL operates its own quasi-government these days, complete with industrial relation regimes and increasingly – and worryingly – what appears to be its attempt at establishing a shadow judiciary.

Now the AFL has always had the quaint institution of the tribunal. Everyone knows that it has no real basis in law – as whinging clubs like the Swans like to prove periodically when one of their players is rubbed out before an important final – but everyone goes along with it (unless it is the Swans etc etc).

In fact, the tribunal is an oddity that sees men given four weeks off work for committing acts that would probably see them sentenced to four months prison if they were being tried in the dreary anonymity of the Ringwood Magistrates court.

No, the AFL has no gone a step further. It is building what appears to be some sort of FBI (Footy Bureau of Investigation). This would be slightly comical, if it weren’t so serious.

Take this report on the ongoing Adelaide/Tippet drama:

AFL investigators have swooped on the Adelaide Crows’ West Lakes offices seizing computers and bank records as the Kurt Tippett scandal deepens.

You what?

Seizing computers and bank records? Ummm … the AFL is conducting raids on clubs now? By what authority?

It gets worse.

In the Melbourne tanking investigation, we’re told that AFL investigators Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad, the league’s intelligence co-ordinator, are interviewing and re-interviewing various Melbourne staff.

Haddad is serious customer, a policeman with international experience in some fairly hairy spots like Cambodia. I don’t imagine he has a “go easy” setting.  Do assistant coaches really need to be grilled by a bloke like this over stuff that happened in what is, after all, only a game? Being interviewed, repeatedly, by police can be a distressing, verging on traumatic, experience.

By what right does the AFL inflict such an experience on people, especially when the crime it is “investigating” is one the AFL itself denied existed for years.

Things get worse. Take this from The Age:

A clause has been included in AFL standard playing contracts requiring players to provide telephone records, bank account details and computer hard drives in the event of any unusual or suspicious activity. Those details would then become part of the database.

This is simply incredible. No other employer in Australia – outside of actual police forces and associated organisations – would dare impose such conditions on employees.

The AFL’s defence in all this is that it must take allegations of misconduct seriously because government gambling regulators and the like have shown an interest in allegations of tanking and the like. That’s fair enough – match fixing is indeed a criminal activity – as Pakistani cricketer Salman Butt found out. The Federal government has established an Integrity in Sport body to look into such institutional cheating like match fixing and drug cheating that might involve criminal activity.

In this case, if there’s a genuine case that criminal activity might have taken place, real life actual cops and genuine courts should get involved, not the AFL’s mickey mouse outfits.

Like all petty jack booters, the AFL’s defence is that people with nothing to hide should have nothing to fear. That is the pathetic defence of the scoundrel. People don’t have to prove their innocence in this country, their guilt must be proven.

I hope the AFLPA take the AFL to task on this, but I suspect they will be bought off with a few more shiny coins. After all, a man can never have too many Ed Hardy shirts, or stupid tattoos.

I just hope the players don’t mind a funny sound over their Mad Monday venue in coming years. A funny, insistent buzzing sound …

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1 Fremantle Dockers Fremantle221750118.768
2 Eagles West Coast221651148.266
3 Hawthorn Hawks Hawthorn221660158.464
4 Sydney Swans Sydney221660127.164
5 Richmond Tigers Richmond221570123.160
6 Western Bulldogs Western Bulldogs221480115.156
7 Adelaide Crows Adelaide211380115.754
8 North Melbourne Kangaroos North Melbourne221390106.552
9 Port Adelaide Power Port Adelaide2212100106.848
10 Geelong Cats Geelong211191101.148
11 GWS Giants GWS22111109944
12 Collingwood Magpies Collingwood2210120106.340
13 Melbourne Demons Melbourne2271507728
14 St. Kilda Saints St. Kilda22615178.426
15 Essendon Bombers Essendon2261607424
16 Gold Coast Suns Gold Coast22417172.918
17 Brisbane Lions Brisbane22418067.516
18 Carlton FC Carlton22418064.816