GWS match-winner Toby Greene will miss the opening five rounds of the 2022 AFL season after his suspension for making intentional contact with an umpire was doubled by the league’s appeals board.
Greene was initially banned for three matches over what the independent tribunal found was an “aggressive, demonstrative and disrespectful” interaction with experienced whistle-blower Matt Stevic during the Giants’ elimination-final win over Sydney.
The AFL challenged the length of the ban on the grounds it was “manifestly inadequate” and was successful on Thursday in having the sanction increased to six matches.
Greene has already served one match of his suspension – having missed the Giants’ semi-final defeat to Geelong – and will not be available until round six next year.
Greene will now miss the opening five rounds of the 2022 season.
“As we said at the time, as a club we maintain that umpires are sacrosanct,” GWS football boss Jason McCartney said.
“We understand the important role they play in our game and they are to be respected at all times.
“Toby apologised for his actions. He is remorseful for the incident that occurred and understands the responsibility he has to umpires specifically, and the game more broadly.
“We accept the suspension and consider the matter finalised.”
The increased sanction will satisfy AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, who said last month he found the length of the initial ban “personally hard to reconcile”.
In Thursday’s appeal hearing, AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson said the three-match penalty was “too light and obviously too light” and reiterated the league’s initial push for a minimum six-match suspension.
“A three-match ban conveys that it (Greene’s action) was inappropriate, but not seriously so,” Gleeson said.
“It was a brazen act and an act of contempt towards the umpire.
“We shouldn’t be distracted by contact being relatively minor.
“If it was major, Mr Greene wouldn’t be playing AFL football again.
“The message that needs to be communicated to Mr Greene and all players and participants and viewers and umpires and prospective umpires is you simply do not aggressively touch an umpire.”
AFL appeals board chairman Murray Kellam agreed Greene’s penalty needed to send a message to all corners of the game.
“In our view it is obvious, taking into account the purpose of sanction in the circumstances of this case, that a three-week suspension is not only inadequate but demonstrably and manifestly so,” Kellam said in handing down the board’s decision.
During the initial hearing, Greene conceded he was at fault for making contact with Stevic and apologised for doing so, but repeatedly denied the contact was intentional.
Neither of the two were required to speak at Thursday’s appeal hearing.
Greene filled in as GWS captain when regular skipper Stephen Coniglio was injured last season and is in contention to take on the role full-time.
The 28-year-old’s leadership qualities are highly regarded by the Giants despite his repeated indiscretions, which have led to 22 charges over his decade-long career.
Greene has now been suspended for a total of 14 matches and accrued almost $30,000 worth of fines.
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