Sweet and naive? Better than paranoid and delusional.Robbie it's sweet and naiive that you believe its not biased but you live in a dream world. Of course the AFL seeks to steer the competition to meet their objectives to spread the game at grassroots level, develop key markets and monetise the TV, streaming and merchandise rights. Sometimes its obvious like the trading ban but most times its far more subtle.
It's not hard. They talk. The AFL umpires know the objectives and the preferred outcomes, though of course they can't be seen to influence the games. Still they know which side their bread is buttered on. So they give a soft free, miss a free, a missed 50m, a momentum killer if needed. Of course they try to tidy up the stats if they're too lop sided, usually by awarding junk time frees. Nothing too obvious but watch the 2016 GF if you want to see AFL bias.
Normally it would never be as obvious as 3 errors in one team's favour in the dying minutes but the weekend's game was very close. Pay any of those correctly and the outcome is not what the AFL prefers. So to defuse accusations of bias the AFL admits the umpire made an error and thus they absolve themselves of blame. Issue AFL apology, defend umpires, rinse repeat.
it's only by calling them out that we can mitigate this behaviour.
BTW. Horse says "WTF ?"