'Huge gamble': Controversy over 22,000-strong AFL crowd

22,000 fans, pictured here watching Collingwood and Geelong at Optus Stadium.
Over 22,000 watched Collingwood and Geelong at Optus Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Despite the pleas of health workers to re-consider, Perth Stadium hosted a crowd of over 22,000 on Thursday night for Collingwood’s clash with Geelong.

22,077 fans packed into Perth’s new stadium as the Magpies kicked away to a 22-point victory.

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Fans weren’t allowed in the first two rows and there was plenty of social-distancing in place given the stadium capacity is 60,000.

The large crowd was allowed under Western Australia’s protocols, however it didn’t sit well with everyone.

Before the game, a poll of around 2000 West Australian nurses found 94 per cent were against the mass gathering, deeming it “too risky”.

Australian Nursing Federation Secretary Mark Olson said it was “clearly a risk”, while Australian Medical Association’s WA president Dr Andrew Miller described it as a “huge gamble”.

“What we’re betting with is the health and livelihood of the whole of Western Australia,” Mr Olson said this week.

“We’ve had at least 1000 Victorians allowed to enter the state in the week prior to the latest Victorian lockdown and the Premier cannot guarantee that all of those people were COVID-19 free.

“The Premier knows there is already a danger to WA from the Victorian outbreak because he quickly moved to postpone the level five easing of restrictions for at least two weeks and that’s presumably to see if there are any positive cases turning up here.”

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the crowd was appropriate “with the public health risk in Western Australia at the moment.”

Many on social media were also taken aback by the huge crowd, however others were happy to see so many spectators back at the footy.

Masks were encouraged while food and drink queues were minimised.

However there was a scare when a pitch-invader somehow found his way onto the field.

The man is now facing a $50,000 fine and 10 days in mandatory quarantine.

Optus Stadium is expecting an even larger crowd on Sunday when 30,000 will watch the Western derby between the Eagles and Dockers.

A pitch invader, pictured here being escorted from the field during Geelong's clash with Collingwood.
A pitch invader is escorted from the field during Geelong's clash with Collingwood. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Jordan De Goey stars in Collingwood return

Meanwhile, Collingwood forward Jordan De Goey marked his AFL return with a five-goal haul to help lift his side to victory over Geelong.

De Goey booted 5.1 from 16 disposals in the 8.9 (57) to 5.5 (35) victory.

The Cats closed to within nine points in the final quarter, but De Goey halted their momentum with a 25m soccered goal.

He then kicked two more goals at the death after the Cats had given themselves a late sniff.

A fan at Optus Stadium, pictured here wearing a mask.
Fans were encouraged to wear masks at Optus Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Geelong suffered a huge blow when skipper Joel Selwood was forced off during the opening term with a right hamstring injury.

And Geelong were down to two fit men when defender Jordan Clark dislocated his right shoulder.

De Goey missed last week's win against Hawthorn after being charged with indecent assault over an alleged incident from 2015.

with AAP