Are umpires manipulating games to create close finishes?

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Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2016
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Geelong
Last night we saw Geelong get out to an early 30 point lead over West Coast. The 2nd quarter saw a series of decisions go West Coast's way that got them back into the game. Of course I'm biased so I won't overanalyse it but at half time Nick Riewoldt spoke out about the mystifying decisions. The other members of the panel tried to change the subject as though they weren't suppose to talk about it.

Then tonight GWS had a 20 point lead in the 3rd quarter until several decisions went Brisbane's way which completely changed the momentum of the game.
  • Two different times GWS and Brisbane players went to ground grappling for the ball and the umpire gave a free to Brisbane for high contact.
  • A long kick out of defence had what looked like a fair marking contest on the wing given as high contact, Brisbane free kick.
  • GWS player under pressure hacks the ball which bounced over the line. Given as deliberate OOB.
  • A couple of free kicks given against Mumford for holding in the ruck. Nothing in either of them, the second one should probably have been a free to Mumford.
  • Brisbane player (Andrews?) tackled to the ground. Blatant throw not paid.
  • Ball hacked forward. GWS player contests the ball near the ground, spills over the line. Given as deliberate OOB.
  • Looked like a throw to Hipwood for his first goal in the last quarter.
Of course there were also some frees for GWS and some paid to Brisbane that were obvious. And every decision I have highlighted can be disputed. But there were certainly enough free kicks given to the side that were behind to change momentum and get them back in the game. By the end of the game it's all forgotten. The commentators don't mention it. Once the job is done the umpires can revert to even handedness. We end up talking about a last minute decision that might have decided the result, not the 10 earlier decisions that made it a close game.

The AFL manipulates many aspects of the game to create 'equalisation'. Draft picks, the draw, salary caps. Ultimately equalisation is designed to maximise revenue. Close finishing games are exciting and in line with the AFL's equalisation and revenue maximisation policies. Are the umpires instructed to try to equalise games?
 

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hk89

Norm Smith Medallist
Jul 12, 2009
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I find it very hard to believe the AFL would try to manipulate the game in this manner. Just takes one whistleblower to completely ruin the integrity of the game. They have a lot of other sneaky levers they can pull which are way less risky, and have less consequences if they get caught, rather than getting a bunch of people prison time (which I'd imagine match tampering could well do, given the potential financial gains associated with such things - they'd probably have a go at them via 'obtaining financial gain by deception').

Having a bunch of rules that have "at the AFL's discretion" clauses is a much more sensible way of tilting things in the direction the AFL wants to nudge things than trying to directly influence the events on game day. I'd be much more inclined to believe that things like tribunal/MRP decisions are lent on than direct pressure on the umpires to influence results one way or another, and even that is starting to get into tin foil territory, although I must admit I've felt like the AFL does have MRP agendas at times.
 

carlton2dabone

Premiership Player
May 17, 2012
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I’m don’t subscribe to conspiracies but there was one instance at the start of the game that makes me wonder.

Few started very strong and kicked the first 4 goals of the game, Lions didn’t even look like getting it into their half of the ground let alone score.

Critical juncture of the game even if it was extremely early, if Giants kicked another goal or two then the game was over within the first quarter and before the Lions could even get going.

Lions take a kick in and get it out to the defensive 50m mark, umpire blows his whistle indicating a free to the Lions for a hold in a marking contest that was a pack situation.

Resulting kick is again long down the line to the wing where umpire blows his whistle again indicating another free kick to the Lions for another h hold in a marking contest that was again a pack situation.

Finally the resulting kick again goes down the line to the forward 50 mark only for the umps to get again blow the whistle for yet another free kick to the Lions for yet another hold in s marking contest.
Only this time the hold supposedly happened 80m from the bell and 30m beyond where the ball was going to land, giving the lions a free kick
15m out directly in front of goal.

Basically the umps manufactured a goal for the Lions from fullback without the ball even hitting the ground once or a single possession by anyone during the entire transition from defence to shot in goal.
Lions desperately needed to get a goal to get going before the game was out of their reach, and suddenly the umpires ‘find’ tight touchwood holding decisions, enough in a row to make sure that the Lions were guaranteed to get a goal before the game was completely out of their reach
 

JeanLucGoddard

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2018
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Lions were umpired back into game ... and the top four against us.

All the attention was on the incorrect free paid against Scott Thompson.

But exactly as the OP describes Brisbane were umpired into the game, given the momentum, in the third quarter, after being a few goals down at half time.

Ten frees to none in the quarter. Zorko got six alone, despite also being done for vile misconduct on Simpkin. A free against Hodge was magically overturned, bizarre down the grounds were paid. Jack Ziebell spent half the quarter getting umpires to explain exactly what the last free was for

I've only ever seen two games in my over three decades of footy watching that I thought the umpires had a direct impact on the result in favour of one team.

Adelaide over Fitzroy in 91, even the commentators (before they were ultra on message) were saying it was crook.

And Brisbane v North this year.

Because the AFL "needs" strong Queensland teams. And with gold coast a rabble, that's Brissy. They need to protect their enormous investment.

And Brissy have some great players, they are well coached,. They recruited smart. AFL couldn't umpire Gold Coast into being competitive even if they tried.

But multiple times this year Brissy got umpired back into games, got gifted momentum shifts.
 

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JeanLucGoddard

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2018
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Basically the umps manufactured a goal for the Lions from fullback without the ball even hitting the ground once or a single possession by anyone during the entire transition from defence to shot in goal.
Lions desperately needed to get a goal to get going before the game was out of their reach, and suddenly the umpires ‘find’ tight touchwood holding decisions, enough in a row to make sure that the Lions were guaranteed to get a goal before the game was completely out of their reach
Yep, that's how it goes.
 

JeanLucGoddard

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2018
9,002
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I find it very hard to believe the AFL would try to manipulate the game in this manner. Just takes one whistleblower to completely ruin the integrity of the game.
Who is going to blow the whistle?

Ray Chamberlain, who has come to believe he's some "personality" and and important part of the game, and can interact with crowds, and decide a free is there but he thinks the player "put mayo" on it so doesn't pay it then goes on radio, furthering his BRAND and all the associated lucrative earns that comes with that, to joke about it?

And they aren't actually fixing the result per se ... they are ensuring a team, Brisbane reeatedly and in this case, are given multiple opportunities to win.
 

BRAB

Just Hip my Wood
Oct 20, 2014
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Brisbane Lions
Lions were umpired back into game ... and the top four against us.

All the attention was on the incorrect free paid against Scott Thompson.

But exactly as the OP describes Brisbane were umpired into the game, given the momentum, in the third quarter, after being a few goals down at half time.

Ten frees to none in the quarter. Zorko got six alone, despite also being done for vile misconduct on Simpkin. A free against Hodge was magically overturned, bizarre down the grounds were paid. Jack Ziebell spent half the quarter getting umpires to explain exactly what the last free was for

I've only ever seen two games in my over three decades of footy watching that I thought the umpires had a direct impact on the result in favour of one team.

Adelaide over Fitzroy in 91, even the commentators (before they were ultra on message) were saying it was crook.

And Brisbane v North this year.

Because the AFL "needs" strong Queensland teams. And with gold coast a rabble, that's Brissy. They need to protect their enormous investment.

And Brissy have some great players, they are well coached,. They recruited smart. AFL couldn't umpire Gold Coast into being competitive even if they tried.

But multiple times this year Brissy got umpired back into games, got gifted momentum shifts.
The fact that you're still sooking about the north game two months later is pathetic mate. Let it go.
 

JeanLucGoddard

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2018
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North Melbourne
The fact that you're still sooking about the north game two months later is pathetic mate. Let it go.
I am not the one who started the thread.

Multiple posters have observed the same happening with Brissy.

I don't have an issue with Brissy the club.

Reality is the AFL needs to get ROI on its Queensland dollars and this year you benefited.

It won't last, they'll rapidly switch the love to Gold Coast.
 

BRAB

Just Hip my Wood
Oct 20, 2014
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Brisbane Lions
I am not the one who started the thread.

Multiple posters have observed the same happening with Brissy.

I don't have an issue with Brissy the club.

Reality is the AFL needs to get ROI on its Queensland dollars and this year you benefited.

It won't last, they'll rapidly switch the love to Gold Coast.
The thread didn't start by bringing up a random home and away game, that was you.

You jump on the opposition board of the club we're playing every week and complain about how you get done by the umpires.

There's no conspiracy mate. The lions are just better than your team. It's honestly sad that you're still going on about it months later.
 

JeanLucGoddard

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 21, 2018
9,002
21,126
AFL Club
North Melbourne
The thread didn't start by bringing up a random home and away game, that was you.

You jump on the opposition board of the club we're playing every week and complain about how you get done by the umpires.

There's no conspiracy mate. The lions are just better than your team. It's honestly sad that you're still going on about it months later.
The last two weeks have just proven us and the Lions are at the same place.

Not good enough for finals footy.
 

Generalissimo

His Excellency
Jul 14, 2002
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Some of the decisions in the 2nd quarter of the Geelong/West Coast game are unfathomable if you think the umpires were adjudicating on-field events, but make perfect sense if you think their agenda was to prevent a blowout.
 
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hk89

Norm Smith Medallist
Jul 12, 2009
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Who is going to blow the whistle?
Any one of the 40+ field umpires. The more people you need to be involved in the conspiracy the less likely it is you'll keep it quiet.

For gods sake people, apply some Occam's razor instead of accusing razor of systematic max fixing. What is more likely, that umpiring is hard, and Razor ray makes some mistakes, or the AFL is involved in a massive max fixing conspiracy that they've done an amazing job of hiding, despite signs of massive incompetence is all other administrative areas? In fact this is probably the biggest argument against the idea that the AFL uses umpires to fix matches. I have no confidence that the AFL is organised enough to successfully keep that kind of thing under wraps.


And they aren't actually fixing the result per se ... they are ensuring a team, Brisbane reeatedly and in this case, are given multiple opportunities to win.
"But your honour, I wasn't fixing the match result, just deliberately engineering a bunch of decisions to give one team multiple opportunities to win."

Yeah, that will play out well.
 
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