AFL must stand strong against staging
Staging or taking a dive is currently plaguing the AFL. It seems administrators are unsure how to effectively manage the ploy to draw cheap free kicks.
Several instances across the year have found players jerk their heads’ back in a manner which replicates the force of copping a high tackle. This has come to be known as “staging”. In the US over exaggerating contact is called “flopping” and as we know in soccer, it is called ‘diving’.
Under this year’s crackdown on staging, a player’s first offence results in a reprimand or a warning. Subsequent offences can draw fines of $1600 and $2400.
Essendon forward Leroy Jetta became the first player to be charged with staging following the Bombers round eight victory over Richmond.
In line with AFL legislation, Jetta received a reprimand for exaggerating contact from Richmond’s Steven Morris. Jetta dropped to the ground upon the slightest bump.
Several weeks later in Melbourne’s upset win over the Bombers, Jetta took centre stage again. Jetta threw his head back dramatically following a tackle around the waist from Joel MacDonald.
The match review panel continued their inconsistent and at times bemusing verdicts and Jetta avoided a second conviction or fine.
If the AFL is serious about stamping out this pathetic act, the match review panel must take a tough stance.
A strategy similar to the illicit drugs policy could potentially eliminate staging. A three-strike and you are out scheme may be the answer. If an offender is found guilty of staging three times they receive a mandatory penalty, consisting of either a fixed suspension or substantial fine.
The suspension could be one to two matches, more than enough to scare players against diving.
Whatever procedure is imposed, the AFL must adhere to their policy consistently, unlike their enforcement of the current system.