Fans have become used to the absence of real crowds at the AFL after a few rounds, but the relative silence was notable after a controversial goal-umpiring decision.
In any other year, Collingwood fans at the ground would have given the goal umpire an absolute earful, after Jordan de Goey’s goalward snap in the third quarter bounced off the official and was ultimately ruled to be a behind.
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de Goey’s snap looked true off the boot, and with the Pies in need of a spark, his goal to bring them within 11 points could have been a game changer against Essendon.
Instead, the Bombers booted the final two goals of the third quarter and went on to consign Collingwood to a disappointing loss, concluding a tumultuous week dominated by midfielder Steele Sidebottom’s four-match ban for breaching coronavirus rules.
Fans were perplexed by the score review that took place after the ball deflected off the goal umpire.
“Review complete,” the reviewer said.
“Looking at this angle I’m satisfied that if the ball did not hit the umpire it would’ve hit the goalpost.”
The controversial review was ticked off by the AFL post-match.
A rarely-used rule, which was altered after a similar controversy in 2015 following a shot on goal by then-Adelaide Crow Eddie Betts, was brought into play, allowing umpires to determine where the ball was likely to have travelled before it hit the goal umpire.
“If the football touches an umpire or official, and in the opinion of the field umpire it has affected a score, play will be stopped and the umpires will determine if the score should be recorded,” the rule states.
Fans in arms over goal umpiring controversy
While the final decision was in line with the rules of the game, like many niche AFL rules, fans felt the interpretation was clunky and allowed a wide margin for error.
There was a strong reaction to the moment on Twitter, where many fans felt as though the rules were somewhat unclear.
Can you imagine what that goal umpire would be copping if #magpiearmy were behind that goal right now.— Tim Gossage 🤓🎙📺 (@TimGossage) July 3, 2020
That was an absolute disgrace.— Brendan Joyce (@Brendan_Joyce12) July 3, 2020
How the hell can you dismiss a goal because you thought it would hit the post if it didn't hit the umpire? It either hits the post or it doesn't. Wtf.#AFLPiesDons— Brenton Harris (@iambren10) July 3, 2020
Jaidyn Stephenson booted three of Collingwood’s seven goals, on a night where greasy conditions proved too much for the Magpies.
Essendon ultimately prevailed, claiming a crucial 10.3.63 to 7.6.48 victory over their Melbourne rivals as all of the AFL’s Victorian teams prepare to leave the state thanks to the surge in virus cases.