The AFL will investigate a controversial crowd moment in Friday night's game at Marvel Stadium that saw a fan lean out from the stands and touch Richmond's Marlion Pickett, in scenes that left viewers livid. The shocking scenes came before three-quarter time of the Tigers' crushing 55-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs that all but ends their slim finals hopes.
Pickett became inadvertently embroiled in drama after chasing Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli into the Tigers' defensive 50, where he ran right towards the fence. The Bulldogs fan could be seen reaching out and patting Pickett on the shoulder in mocking fashion, before the dual Richmond premiership player turned around and knocked a drink out of the supporter's hand.
When the three-quarter-time siren sounded moments later, Pickett made a beeline towards that section of the crowd where he could be seen in conversation with a security guard on the fence. The incident left viewers fuming over the security breach, with Fox Footy’s Jordan Lewis insisting players should never be touched by members of the crowd and calling for the supporter to be hit with a lifetime ban.
“You never ever, ever, ever touch a player on the ground – I don’t care who you are,” Lewis said. “That fan right there should be banned for life.
“I would hope that that fan was ejected straight away and the right process and protocol should be followed. It’s a no-go zone – that should be worldwide in any sport.
“That’s why the fence is there, to separate the fans from the players because people can get heated.” Pickett was clearly shaken by the incident and after a discussion with Richmond football boss Tim Livingstone at three-quarter time, he started the final term on the bench.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) August 4, 2023
Not sure why the fan at the game thought it was ok to touch Marlion Pickett. #AFLDogsTigers
— Sharlene Kuruppuarachchi (@SharleneMelb) August 4, 2023
The AFL will get the security report from its team at Marvel Stadium over the weekend, work through why the fan touched Pickett over the fence. The AFL’s message is that any interaction of that nature is totally unacceptable @FOXFOOTY
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) August 4, 2023
AFL world fumes over crowd incident
Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown labelled it a "dangerous situation" that Pickett found himself in and praised the Tigers star for his handling of it. “(The fan) should be kicked out,” Brown said. “We don’t want to ever see that in a game. It’s such a dangerous situation.
“Marlion Pickett should be congratulated for keeping under control. He could have quite easy gone bang and put one on his chin.”
Interim Richmond coach Andrew McQualter said the crowd incident was "disappointing" to see and should never happen in the game. "We love fans in our game, and they're so critical to our game, but our players should never, ever be touched when they're on the football field," he said.
"I think all Marlion was doing was alerting Tim (Livingstone) to the fact that something happened, and just getting security to deal with it and the AFL will deal with it now."
News Corp journalist Jon Ralph confirmed the AFL would be launching an investigation into the incident. “The league tells me it will get the security report from Marvel Stadium... they want to know who the fan was, exactly what happened," he said.
“The very strong message from the league tonight is fans should not touch players under any circumstances. Marlion probably did well to try and knock his beer over and then he moved away. The security guard did the right thing here.
“You can pay your 25 bucks, you can cheer and you can shout – you just don’t deserve the right to do that there.” The supporter could face a significant sanction, with an Adelaide fan banned from attending games at the Adelaide Oval for the rest of the 2018 season after reaching over the fence and touching Bulldogs captain Easton Wood on the backside.
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